Stu­dent falls for our land­scapes

Central Otago Mirror - - CENTRAL NEWS - By MARY-JO TO­HILL

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.

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