Student falls for our landscapes
What exchange students usually like most about their host towns is the contrast to their home towns. For French exchange student Pauline de Jesus, Alexandra is no exception. It’s the town’s ‘‘very recent history’’ that fascinates her, compared with Chateau-Thierry where she is from, 90 kilometres north-east of Paris and steeped in bloody battle history, the most recent being World War I. ‘‘I love how there’s no bad stories here,’’ she said. Yet it’s the sense of history most people visiting her picturesque town find fascinating, with famous natives such as 17th century author and poet Jean de La Fontaine. Even the school she goes to, Jules Verne High School, named after the author of 20,000 leagues Under the Sea and Around the World in 80 days, gives her town, dominated by a big chateau, a sense of age. But there are some preferences which reveal Ms de Jesus’ true French heritage – including a love of champagne, grown in her famous region. As Dunstan High School student Charlotte Stringer said when she, Sarah Booth and Nadine Ward went on a exchange earlier this year, each new host family always had a glass waiting to celebrate on arrival. The girls are part of a three-year-old exchange programme between their two schools; the idea being to improve language skills. Kiwi-style English has caused Miss de Jesus much confusion and laughter. ‘‘I’m always saying ‘can you repeat, but slowly’.’’ The words ‘‘bed’’ and
‘‘bad’’ have been the hardest words to distinguish but she is certain her English has improved in the six weeks since arriving. She hopes to be able to sit exams in November along with her new classmates. Before coming to Alexandra, the 18 year old completed a science-based course and passed her Baccalaureate or final school exam. Education is different in France, with much longer school hours – up to eight a day – and at her school students cannot mix arts and science courses. She likes how students get a choice in New Zealand schools. Miss de Jesus said she had fallen in love with the New Zealand landscape and the contrast of being able to visit lush Fiordland one week and to go curling in arid Naseby the next. Her big hope is to study at an English university where she would like to qualify as a French teacher, teaching at English-speaking schools. She will head to Arapawa Island in Marlborough to work as a WWOOFer (a willing worker on organic farms) in January, returning to France in February.
Outdoors: French exchange student Pauline de Jesus enjoys Central Otago’s countryside.