BIDDEFORD — An exchange program with students from France is giving students a taste of another culture.

Twenty-two students from Nantes, France arrived in Boston on Feb. 24, coming to Maine on Feb. 25, where they have been staying with host families in Biddeford and Saco for several weeks, and were scheduled to leave tonight.

The students from Nantes attended classes at Thornton Academy in Saco and Biddeford High School and had “a pretty packed” schedule that included trips to Portland’s Old Port, a lighthouse and the Statehouse in Augusta, as well as attending a Red Claws game and playing candlepin bowling, said Thornton Academy French teacher Melanie Hansen at a dinner Tuesday night hosted by the Franco Society of Biddeford at the J. Richard Martin Community Center.

Olivier Tabary, who teaches at Lycée Carcouët, the school in Nantes, France that participated in the exchange, said the experience helps student improve their English language skills, and allows them to be immersed in American culture and discover the daily routine of American students.

One notable difference, he said, is lunch time. In France, students take an hour and a half lunch break and eat multiple courses, where here lunch is about 25 minutes long.

One adjustment students had to make was adapting to the weather.

“It’s cold,” said Lycée Carcouët student Justine Moreau.

She said like many of the students, it was her first time in the United States. She said it was hard to choose a favorite activity, as they had done so much, but she really enjoyed visiting Portland and Boston.

“I think we all had a great experience,” she said.

Lycée Carcouët student François Godec said his favorite experience was snowboarding, which he tried for the first time while here in Maine.

Godec said he thought everyone they had met was friendly and very nice.

Moreau agreed, “They really take care of us.”

Biddeford High School senior Monica Moy’s family hosted Godec.

“It’s been a blast,” she said.

She said she knew little about French culture prior to Godec’s arrival and she learned a lot from him. She even got to try some French food that Godec had brought, including foie gras, which is duck liver.

Hansen said some of the students from Thornton Academy and Biddeford High School will get to learn a lot more about French culture when they go to France next year. They will keep in touch with the students they met and see them again during that trip.

“They make these great connections with students from across the world,” she said.

— Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or [email protected].



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