French students' comments on Comenius project

AMANDINE : (travelled to Belgium)
The Comenius project allowed me to meet very different people. I met my partner with whom I got on well. My trip to Belgium showed me that all young Europeans have more or less the same adolescence, the same life punctuated by school, friends, pastimes... We all fill our free time in the same way and all that changes is the amount of time devoted to our free time, since it varies according to the country. During the trip I loved spending time with Marie-Astrid, my partner, who showed me her life and hobbies (theatre, rollerskating, her friends...) I was also lucky enough to taste typical dishes, like "boulets liégeois" (traditional meatballs). I will keep fond memories of this little trip.

MANON : (Germany)
For my part, I went to Germany, to Bremen from 12th to 17th May 2009, and stayed with Janina Pahl and her family in Bremen. I found this exchange really interesting and fun and I will keep only fond memories of it. The activities were interesting; the life in Germany is very calm and the atmosphere is pleasant. It's a jovial country where life is good. I find the Germans very ambitious and they do a lot of activities. If I had to pick out a few of my German partner's caracteristics, I could say that Janna was rather calm, kind and fun. As for the main issue raised by the Comenius project, whether all European teenagers had the same pastimes, I can say that on the whole, whether French or German, our pastimes are similar. I think the real difference lies in the amount of time devoted to them. For me, the Germans, who finish classes earlier than the French, can devote more time to these activities. What I noticed was that my partner played tenis, went out with her friends, took care of her sister, did her school work with no real time restrictictions, calmly and never really getting stressed. What's more, that's an essential factor of German life. I also think that this greater "freedom" than the French have allows them to be more autonomous. They seem more mature ane more responsible than the French. What's more, the fact that the Germans spend little time over meals, with family meals being uncommon, saves more time. Each eats whenever he wants, at any time of the day.
As for the trip itself, my favourite moments were the evenings and nights spent in Bremen with the Germans, the Spanish, the Belgians and the French. That's where there were the most exchanges and unforgettable moments. The day devoted to sporting activities, notably to volleyball, and also the day we watched the Werder Bremen match were also good times.
Exchanges between countries are really interesting. They allow us to visit other countries, meet other people, speak other languages, learn a lot and store up unforgettable memories.

MARION : (Germany)
During this exchange I met Lisa, a German highschool student. Thanks to this exchange, I was able to see that the pastimes of young Germans are similar to ours, however their lifestyle is a little different: the Germans have better transport facilities (trams, trains) and go out more (classes end at 3pm). They seem sportier and more concerned about the environment (they travel by bike) and mealtimes are very different to ours, given that they eat a sandwich every two hours and rarely "proper meals". What struck me as very different in Germany were the anti-smoking measures (minors are forbidden to smoke in public) whereas there are lots of advertisements for tobacco, which no longer exists in France. I also noticed during my trip to Germany that the Germans don't kiss each other hello or goodbye and this French custom astonishes them. Finally, I'll say that the Germans are very warm and welcoming.

SOLENNE : (Belgium)
Participating in the Comenius project was a very satisfying and enriching experience.
The trip to Belgium represented the concrete realisation of the project and the year we had spent studying the pastimes of young Europeans. For me it meant discovering a new country and a new culture.
I noticed that the Belgians are more sporty than the French (I saw how well they played in the badminton tournament), notably thanks to more intensive training at school, but also during extra-curricular pastimes. No doubt they have more free time than French teens. My partner shared her passion for rowing. Otherwise their pastimes are similar to ours : music, going to the cinema, shopping...
We also swapped recipes : I tasted Liège syrup and showed them "rillettes", a Sarthois speciality they'd never tasted. What struck me most was the number of kisses to say hello: in France we give 2 or 4; they give 1 or 2. It was hard for me to get used to !
I have fond memories of the trip, all the more so because of the ties created between me, my partner and her family.

MELODIE : (Germany)
What I'll remember from this exchange is getting to know other people of my age in Europe. As far as my German partner is concerned, I'd say the snapshot I'll keep is his addiction to food and for my Belgian partner I'd say their culture isn't that different from ours. They don't have the same experience as teenagers, for they have much more freedom and are allowed out more. Yes, they devote more time to their leisure activities as they don't have lessons in the afternoons.

NAEL : (Spain)
My trip to Spain, to Ourense, allowed me to discover the way of life of Spanish teens and those of other countries. Theirs is really less stressful than ours. Many stereotypes are true : the young have more freedom; parents are less strict than in France and so are the teachers; what's more they have fewer lessons a day which lets them do more extra-curricular activities or go out more often. I also met some Germans. They eat a lot compared to the French.

They live their teens differently to us. They are less stressed by their studies and more protected by their parents. By this I mean that they're free to go out a lot, knowing that their parents will come and pick them up in the middle of the night. Their classes are organized in such a way that they're able to do some sort of activity. Yet I don't know if they really take advantage of this.

My favourite moments were in the heated spas of Outaris. Being in a warm pool and feeling rain dropping on my face was really great. The atmosphere in the dance-bars is good, too. I remember that the first day I met my partner he left me with others from the Comenius group, telling me quickly that he was going to his piano lesson. When they decided to go home, my partner still hadn't come to get me. I panicked ans had to ask a Spanish girl to phone him to come and get me.

LEA : (Spain)

These exchanges have allowed me to open up to a new culture. I've got to know new people and Comenius has brought me friendship with my penfriend Sara who I talk to a lot.

Which character traits? The Spanish are ALWAYS tired. I must have heard the sentence: "I'm tired" 30 or so times a day. There's no denying that they eat a lot, party a lot and are really welcoming.

I think the Sapnish have a strange lifestyle (compared to us in France). They don't go to bed before one or two in the morning. Young people go out drinking and to see their friends on Thursdays and Fridays and get up early to go to school. On the other hand, they enjoy more free time for they can go out in the afternoons since lessons stop at 2.30pm.

As far as hobbies are concerned, my penfriend and the other Spanish partners didn't seem very sporty but were all passionate about music. They devote more time to it for they have fewer hours of lessons (even if technically they should use this time to work in). But this point of view is limited to the group I met in March.

What I liked best when I met my partner for the first time in France was her big smile. It relaxed me completely, as I was quite anxious about not knowing her. When I arrived in Spain, it was just great because she threw her arms round me and her mother was really welcoming.

Anecdotes : there's the shock (yes my partner was really shocked) of learning all that is forbidden in France, but not in Spain, like the hookah bars, the sale of spirits to kids under-18. I don't know how many times she said : "But it cant be true!" and it made me laugh.

AURORE : (Germany)

I was in a hurry to go to Germany and the voyage didn't disappoint me! It was the first time I'd flown and it all went well. When I met Charlie (Charline), we immediately hit it off. While we were walking to her house, we chatted away happily. I went into Charlie's class and noticed lessons there were much more relaxed than in France. What shocked me most was how often the Germans eat. Our German partners had prepared a lot for us to do, like a barbecue and the footbal match, which was my first. In the evenings, Charlie, Nina (Manon's partner), Manon and I went into Bremen and had a lot of fun. The final evening was great. One of the partners had organized a Karaoke. It was sad to say goodbye.

AMELIANE : (Belgium)
During the Comenius project, I was partnered with Sophie, who is Belgian, and I went to stay with her along with other partners who were German!
I found out that the leisure activities of young Europeans aren't at all different. However, the Germans do devote more time to their pastimes and are a little sportier than the French and the Belgians. Tyey finish school in the early afternoon which sometimes allows them to devote a whole afternoon to their pastime. They often belong to clubs or teams.
On the other hand, I learnt about different cultures, particularly when I went to Sophie's with Torben and Lisa, for all four of us were very different, which meant we didn't always agree on which activity to choose among those suggested by Sophie. As a result, we talked a lot about our lifestyles.
Finally, when Sophie came to stay with me and I went to her house, we immediately found out that our favourite sport or pastime was shopping. I also learnt about the kindness, understanding and good humour of people from the north!
To conclude, the pastimes of young Europeans have a lot in common. What differs are the lifestyles and that means that leisure activities aren't seen in the same way. Attitudes to leisure activities among the French and Belgians are quite similar, whereas in Germany it's different. Most Germans belong to a team or a club, and are really determined in their pursuit of sport and spend a lot of time doing it. This isn't really true in France and Belgium.

HARMONIE : (Belgium)
For me Comenius was a good experience thanks to the work on the survey and to my trip to Belgium. Going to my partner's in Belgium was enriching. I learnt that they lived the same way as we do; the only differences are the school system and the way boys and girls are separated in sport. Their leisure activities aren't different from ours. We have a lot in common. During my trip to Blegium I visited Brussels and went to the Comic Strip Museum, which I really liked. My partner's family was really great, ready to welcome everyone and all new experiences.
One day I remember that my partner's mother gave me something, saying 'please'. That surprised me, as in France we don't say 'please' when we give someone something, but say 'here' instead. I think that anecdote will remain a fond memory as will the whole experience.

ORIANE : (Spain)
To begin, it was my first visit to Spain and I have fond memories of it. For me, the whole voyage was an anecdote between ultra-sporty times to avoid missing our transport and times spent with Sarah, Léa and Naël, where we had trouble making ourselves understood, and times when we had a few little problems, nothing serious indeed rather funny. Today we still talk about it and laugh!
As far as my host family is concerned, they were nice and welcoming, perhaps too welcoming! In fact they were far too kind (they no doubt wanted to be polite but it was sometimes embarrassing) and maybe a little too greedy : the Spanish have big appetites! What's more, I'd say they were hearty eaters, reminding me of Gargantua and eating at any time of the day or night, anywhere, and anything at all. They're fantastic people and love "fiestas". In a word, they enjoy life.
Regarding the Germans, they seemed a little more distant and reserved, less touchy-feely (although less worried about modesty) and they, too, have hearty appetites, especially for beer! I can confirm their reputation: beer is what really matters!
I also find that these teenagers of different nationalities are much less stressed than French students and have much more freedom, which doesn't mean they're more responsible! They're lucky enough to live in a country where the education system isn't such a heavy burden, is more relaxing than ours. What's more, the Spanish;, like the Germans, have no lessons in the afternoon, although the latter have an opportunity to do sport in the daytime.

During our stay I was astonished by a degree of irresponsibility on the part of the Spanish : they spent their parents' money like water. We would go out at night and banknotes would be handed out as if they had no value for the spenders. When I received my partner in France, I insisted on paying for her whenever we went out. I think that if she'd done the same, she would have thought twice before spending so much. Still, our cultures are quite different and it's always interesting to see how other populations live.

By the end, the trip exhausted me - between going out every night till 1am on average - eating too much fatty food and being kept busy all day, but it was an experience not to be missed. In a nutshell, I enjoyed it and it allowed me to get to know the other French students! For me it's worth repeating, if possible!!

SARAH : (Spain)
Thanks to the Comenius project, I had the opportunity of welcoming a Spanish partner here and of going to Spain. I thoroughly enjoyed these exchanges for, as well as practising the language, they allowed us discover our European neighbours' way of life, which isn't the same as ours. I noticed that, like many Spanish teens, my partner would regularly go out in the evenings with a few friends for a drink in a bar or to dance till 2 or 3am - sometimes even later - although she'd got school next day. It has to be said that the town of Orense offers more entertainment than Château-du-Loir and parents allow their children to stay out till all hours. At 10.30pm in the streets of Orense I remember seeing children of ten or so, with no parental supervision, which really surprised me; on the contrary, my partner found this quite normal. What's more, the Spanish students are frre in the afternoon - from 2pm - for leisure activities, walking, shopping or revising in the run-up to the exams. In comparison, I find it more difficult to do leisure activities while most students are in school all day, that's to say from 8am to 5.30pm. What's more, all the stereotypes we hear about aren't entirely untrue. For example, the Spanish are said to party a lot, which turns out to be true; my stay in Spain confirmed this. In any case, I've fond memories of this exchange which was full of surprises, laughter and encounters...

PAULINE : (Belgium)
The Comenius experience allowed me to get to know new people, both foreign and French. The memory I'll particularly treasure is the trip to Belgium, which allowed me to meet a great family and discover wonderful scenery. The trip proved that Belgian chips are indeed the best! During this trip I loved discovering a family life which was different from my own. What's more, I really liked the folk dances.
The environment these young Europeans live in is very like ours. Even if some have slightly different customs, it doesn't stop us having the same pastimes. On the whole I think we have the same pastimes and those that are different don't depend on the young people but on geographical features, like being close to a river. On the other hand, having fewer classes after lunch meant that the Germans and Spanish did more sport than the Belgians and the French. They have more time to devote themselves fully to their pastimes.

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