Everything started on the 19th of November 2016... It was the departure of the trip we have been waiting for so long. It is based on an exchange between two high schools: a French and a Dutch school. We, the French students, were so excited to leave Luisant for a week, that we didn't resist to talk to our penfriends before meeting them in real life. Oh, I nearly forgot to say that we had penfriends and we will live in their homes during the trip, to discover the Dutch way of life. Mine is called Bram Van Driesum, it’s a boy who likes football and gaming. He has two brothers. So, let's go to the Netherlands!
We left Luisant at 9 o'clock...
As soon as we arrived at JTC School, we joined our penfriend families, and went to spend a week-end with them. Most of us were very stressed out, but finally the week-end was very cool.
For my part, I took an aperitif before we had dinner. Then we ate a raclette after introducing ourselves and visiting the house.
I also gave them the hamper that I brought from Chartres. It was made of various typical food from France like chocolates, pâté and as well as salted caramels. I also gave them specialities from Chartres, such as Mentchikoff and a mug representing the cathedral.
We watched a movie called “Johnny English”, the main actor is Rowan Atkinson. He is famous for his role in “Mr Bean”. It was a very funny film.
The first morning in Netherlands was rather strange because to speak English as soon as I got up was not very common. We took a brunch with the family. I discovered the first Dutch specialities this morning like “pannenkoeken”, sugar loaf, cinnamon brioche and soft-boiled egg. I also tasted sugar and chocolate vermicelli to spread on slices of bread with butter. All the specialities I tried this morning were delicious.
We then prepared ourselves to join some of Bram’s friends in McDonald. Just before leaving home, I did some bike testing because their bikes are quite big and I’m rather small, so we did a little circuit in the neighbourhood. After our lunch at Mc Donald, we went to bowling with Bram’s friends and their penfriends: Orlane, Dorian and Orian. We did a battle: the French against the Dutch. Obviously, we won !!!
After that, we went back home, and I attended the delivery of Saint-Nicholas letters. In fact, Saint-Nicholas, “Sinterklaas” in Dutch, is a pet feast in Netherlands, it is celebrated on the 6th of December. Children get presents and sweets, in their shoes which is droppped off in front of the hearth on the 5th of December, in the evening. So, in my host family, each year, they exchange letters where there are the names of each member of the family. Then, they have to buy a present to the person named in the letter and write a poem to him or her. It's a tradition and I was very delight to saw that !
We ate after that, and I tried this day another speciality, called “amandel staaf” and it is speculoos and almond paste inside. It's delicious, and I really think that it is my favourite Dutch speciality. I also tasted another famous sweet, the “pepernoten”. Usually I don't like anise, and although it is the main ingredient of this typical candy I rather like it.
So, the weekend ended and I must say I had a great time!
Monday was the first day at the JTC School and I was very excited to discover their college and their learning methods. We started this week by an activity with the Dutch students, we did some mathematics riddle. The theme of our trip was "mathematics in police's investigation's service". It was great but Dutch students didn't show us each brain-twister, so we couldn't see all the tasks.
After that, we had lunch and we ate for the first time of the week the sandwiches that we prepared in the morning, before going to school.
In the afternoon, we went to Roosendaal downtown, he had a questionnaire to fill in, it was about some particularities of the city such as a memorial of the France Cycling Tour or a beautiful door which belongs to a post office. Once the test was finished, we had one hour left to do some shopping. So, I took the opportunity to buy “truffles gouda” for my grand-parents, the shop was in a beautiful passage, and waffels for my mother (who is very greedy, just like me!).
We came back home, it was a very nice day ! We did not do anything special during the week's evenings, so, I haven’t got much to say apart the Dutch typical food we had for dinners. That night, I tasted something which doesn't exist in France, a kind of yoghurt in carton box and it is delicious. There are a lot of flavours, but I only tasted vanilla and also apple with cinnamon which is my favourite!
Tuesday, like the other morning of the week, I went down to have breakfast at half past seven and after that, Bram and I prepared our sandwiches for the lunch. We left home at 8 o'clock and each morning I needed to hurry because I didn't have enough time to brush my teeth and take my backpack with my sandwiches… But, despite this detail, I was always on time !
So, we went to school on our bikes and arrived around half past eight at the college. I was with Orlane and Dorian because their penfriends are Bram’s friends. They say about us that we're not very good at cycling because the ride took so much time with us…!
In the morning, we had some lessons of history, social studies, arts and music. Lessons seem more interesting there compared to France. For example we learned and played a little melody at guitar for the music lesson. It was very exciting because in the music class, there are a lot of instruments like drums, guitars and also piano whereas we didn't have music lesson anymore after year 9.
Afterwards we had lunch, and we did sports in the afternoon. The gym was separated in 3 different grounds: basketball, field hockey and futsal. My team didn’t win but we had a lot of fun.
We went back home and I tried at dinner another local dish, but this time, it was a very disgusting one. It was “zoute drop”, a sort of liquorice (I don't like it originally) but these one are with a liquid inside and it makes it even more sickening.
Wednesday, the day that we waited for ! The day we discovered Amsterdam. It was the best day of the trip. We had around a 2-hour trip on the bus but it went very fast.
When we arrived in the capital city, we walked to the Rijksmuseum which is an art museum which we visited. We saw the most famous works like “La Laitière” of Vermeer and “La Ronde de nuit” of Rembrandt.
Then, we had 3 hours of free time to have lunch, to do shopping and to visit the city. We made a group of seven students including Dutch girls. It was very cool, we did shopping and we ate at the Starbucks coffee.
After that, when we walked back to the bus, we went through the red light quarter, a mythic place where girls exhibit in shop windows. It is very different to France, even in the hot district.
The day was very tiring and when we came back to Roosendaal, my correspondent and I cycled home, we ate and we went straight to bed.
The next morning was quite sad because we realized that it was almost the end of our trip…
Like Tuesday morning, we had lessons. Mr. Elsten tried to teach us some Dutch words: the only one that I remember is « Doui », which means « bye ». We had three lessons left: biology, economics and management-organization. It was quite interesting !
We ate in the aula, just like the other days. During the lunch break, we went to the supermarket with some of the Dutch and French students to buy some culinary souvenir like “peppernoten”, Saint-Nicholas chocolate and waffles.
Then, we came back to school and we did some riddles, my team was the first one to finish all the work. Once everyone finished their tasks, we watched the movie “The imitation game”. To my opinion, it is a very good film but it was a pity because I had already seen it twice.
This evening was the last one with the host family, and the most important because there was a quiz with the teachers, penfriends and their families. It was very cool, and very funny. It was the best evening in Netherlands because we had lot of fun, and also because thanks to Bram's family: we won !! So, I came back home with a huge bag full of Dutch food, and a little bag full of tulip bulbs.
When we went back home, Bram's mother told me that she have a little present for me to celebrate Saint-Nicholas. She gave me a parcel, and I discovered food… AGAIN ! But it made me very happy because when I visit a country, the most important thing to my mind is to discover the local way of life and food is part of it.
When I went back to France, my family was very happy to taste lots of specialities.
Then, came Friday morning : the last morning ! It was the last time I saw the mother and the brothers of my penfriend. The goodbye moment was very strange because we didn’t know what to say. So, I thanked them for this beautiful week I spent in their home, and I told them how wonderful it was and how much fun I had.
Then, his father took us to school with my suitcase, because it was not very practical on a bike.
We prepared questions and interviewed three personalities of the college for this last morning in Roosendaal. My group had to interview the headmaster, Mr. van Wettum. We asked him some questions about his career, his job, his college, but also about his beard which puzzled us: he told us that it is a part of his personality and for nothing in the world he would cut it.
After lunch, it was time to go, but before that, we all gathered. The Dutch students gave us, the French Students, a diploma for our participation in this exchange trip. Then, we really had to leave, so we said goodbye for the last time, we went in the bus and drove away. The first hour was very sad, because a lot of people cried because they didn't want to leave Roosendaal and their correspondents: but we didn’t have any choice…
We arrived in Luisant at 10:00 pm, and everybody was very happy to see their families again. When I came back home, I told everything about my trip to my family and I gave them the presents I had for them. I was very happy but also really tired, so I decided to go to bed.
It is now the end of our journey, unfortunately… but, see you in April for another episode !
I want to thank Mrs. Roseau and Mr. Delangue very much for all they did to make our trip such a fantastic time ! So, a big THANK YOU !!
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