When Simone left for France in January for a year in France as a Rotary Exchange student she was expecting lots of socializing with fellow students, exploring the chateaux along the Loire valley where she was to be based and whipping into Paris for concerts and shows. Instead within a few weeks of arriving, she and her host family were in lockdown. Read on ……..
 March  Report
I’m now in the middle of my third month here in France and things are quite difficult at the moment. I never would have expected a global pandemic to occur while I was on exchange but there isn't a lot that I can do about it so I’ve been trying to look on the positive side of things and keep motivated.
So at the beginning of the month, before we all went into quarantine, I went to La Baule, the longest beach in Europe, with my host family and some of their friends who I also went skiing with and have seen other times throughout my stay here. It was really relaxing and quite quiet as well. We stayed at the bach of their friends for the weekend. The first day, we all went for a walk along the beach in the evening and got waffles which were delicious.
On the second morning, I went on a long walk with this girl Justine who is my age. Everyone else opted to go for either a run or a bike ride and we decided we would prefer a walk. We walked along the beach and also around an area with a lot of shops. Everything was closed by that point because of the coronavirus so everywhere was pretty empty. It was really fun and relaxing and it gave lot of time to speak in French as Justine also showed me the Le C Équestre de La Baule, which was the equestrian center in La Baule which hosts a famous horse racing event each year. We went into the area with the stables which was really great because we got to see all the horses but it also was apparently not open to the public so we had to leave.
The day before we left we went on another walk all together again and we went on the beach.
I got to talk to my host mum quite a bit as well which was really nice. It was quite nice to be able to go away before the confinement began. So I’ve just finished my second week of confinement and at the moment I’m supposed to have 2 more weeks of confinement but that could change. I’ve been trying to make the most of this time and improving my French and trying to do a bit of the work that I got given in class though that is quite difficult. So far it's taken me over an hour to understand a science worksheet about the ear and answer about 3 questions.
As time goes on it's a little harder to stay on track and I'm trying to keep myself working but sometimes it can be a bit difficult. I’m spending more time with my host family now though which is good. Since we’re allowed to go outside to exercise, I've been going on small runs with one of my host sisters and also doing about 15 minutes of exercises like squats, jumping jacks, and planks with both my host sisters and host mum.
It's weird walking around outside when there are not many cars or people around and things are really quiet. Recently, we’ve been walking instead of running and we’ve been pointing things out to each other and she tells me the word in French and I tell her the word in English. I’ve also been learning some new french words with my younger host sister. We both get a list in the morning of 20 words and I have to learn the French while she has to learn the English and in the afternoon we have a little test with my host mum.
I also sometimes help out with the cooking for lunch and dinner as well as playing some games andwatching some movies with my host family. I think that this confinement is in some ways negatively affecting my French but also positively affecting it in others. For example, I’m not always surrounded by the language now like I was during class at school but I am now also able to work at my own pace which helps me understand the work more as well as being able to improve my french by doing work that is at my level. I think that it is important now to look at all the positive things that are happening for me like being able to spend more time with my host family and learn more.