David Wentzel takes on France

Abby Paterniti, Reporter

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While many of us dream to one day visit France, that dream normally falls short, but for junior David Wentzel that dream has become a reality.

During Wentzel´s sophomore year, he had looked into American Field Service (AFS) Intercultural Programs to find a scholarship which would grant him the ability to live in France for a year. The process of finding the right scholarship and finally knowing whether or not he was eligible to go took a long time.

¨I went with AFS, having won the Speedwell scholarship. It took two months to finish the interviews and the paperwork,¨ Wentzel said.

Wentzel had already known the French language from when he lived in England, taking the French language class in middle school and high school, so communicating with his new peers would not be a challenge.

Although Wentzel was already fluent in French, he believed this experience would improve his language skills and expand his horizons. When Wentzel first moved to France, he lived with a host family in Montluçon for two weeks before he changed families and then moved to Annecy where he is living at the base of the French Alps.

What Wentzel loves most about France so far is the nature. ¨Living at the base of the Alps, I have a lot of scenic views to enjoy. The route to school is a cobbled street lined with flowers and bookshops. It’s beautiful,¨ said Wentzel.

Junior David Wentzel was living in Montluçon, which is known as ¨the city of art.” This city is a classic example of the medieval time period due to the proximity and style of buildings, castles and historical monuments which surround the entirety of the city.

Photo Courtesy of David Wentzel

As David Wentzel wandered around his new home of Montluçon, he found that many of the alleyways hid many book stores which caught Wentzel’s attention. He spoke with the  owners about Sartre, a French philosopher, and then continued exploring the rest of the city.

Photo Courtesy of David Wentzel

While exploring the rest of Montlucon, David Wentzel found a peak which overlooked the entire city.

Photo Courtesy of David Wentzel

Wentzel explained that there is a clear cultural difference between France and America.

France is much more formal than the U.S; they normally do not start conversation with strangers as most Americans tend to do, and their form of greeting friends is far different from how Americans greet their friends. In France, their form of greeting is ¨Faire les bises¨ which translates to ¨make the kisses.¨ When close friends or family members meet, rather than shaking hands, waving hello or hugging, you lean forward, touch cheeks and kiss the air while making a kissing sound with your lips.

In France, the language classes surpass those which most American schools teach. Wentzel said, ¨…they’ve been taking a second language all their lives. Their level of English is way better than even french AP students French.Classes last longer, and the days differ from each other. Some days I go 10 – 12 p.m., others 8 – 5 p.m..¨

Although Wentzel is having a great experience in France, there are some things that he misses about America, such as the vastly different forms of beauty which America possesses and his friends and family.

Wentzel also said that one thing he misses is speaking in English ¨If there’s anything I miss, it’s speaking in English. It’s difficult to be seen as inept all the time due to the way you speak,¨ said Wentzel.

After Wentzel’s year in France is over, he wishes to apply for another scholarship, so he can spend his senior year in either Germany or Latvia.

Wentzel’s  message to all of those who wish to someday travel to a foreign country is ¨ to try – it’s not an easy process, but you´ll come out of it with so much. If you attend SHS, please take a look at the AFS website. And also, certainly check out the Speedwell scholarship.¨

Unfortunately, Wentzel is unable to visit home for any holidays, so his friends and family will have to wait until next summer to see him again.

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