It’s officially summer in the United States, and around the country, high school students are gearing up to embark on unforgettable educational excursions across the globe with The Experiment in International Living.
As Experimenters pack their bags and double-check their pre-departure materials, we look back to The Experiment’s France: Cultural Discovery trip in summer 2022.
The program is an immersive introduction to French history and culture. Experimenters began their trip by visiting iconic sights and museums in Paris and Nancy, France, while sampling French cuisine.
“From seeing masterpieces at the Louvre to climbing the steps of Notre Dame, to seeing the Eiffel Tower in front of our very eyes … every moment was captivating and mesmerizing,” said Giselle.
The group then headed off to the France-Germany border, but not before they said goodbye to their French homestay families, with whom many had developed deep, personal relationships despite initial language barriers.
“I think that I learned more than I thought I would,” Tessely said about her French language skills after nearly two weeks. “The first day at the homestay was a complete struggle. Toward the end, I understood a lot more and my brain was automatically translating into French.”
At the border in Freiburg, Germany, they immersed themselves in the region’s languages by completing a scavenger that encouraged speaking with local citizens.
Over the next few days, students took a day trip to the Black Forest, a river canoeing trip in Colmar, France, and a 17-mile bike tour of the French countryside.
While exploring the corners of a new city and pushing out of their comfort zones to speak with the local community, Experimenters also formed lasting bonds as they learned about each other’s unique backgrounds.
“I’m never going to forget the people that I’ve met or the places that I’ve been,” said Jasper. “I loved walking around these cities with the people we were on this trip with. This was a really diverse group with people from all over the country [United States] who come from different backgrounds and different home lives, different life experiences. Every single person on this trip has their own story.”
The Experimenters ended their trip back in Paris, where they met Experimenters who had traveled to Spain.
As they prepared for the trip home, they paused to reflect on how the experience had changed them.
“Coming to Europe has been a personal and culturally enlightening experience for everyone, and we all are truly sad that it has come to an end,” said Mariah. “This trip has allowed us all to create lasting memories and friendships, while at the same time gaining quality knowledge and experiences, which we will carry with us for the rest of our lives.”
Hilda agreed. Back home, she said her time with The Experiment had a profound impact on her that won’t soon fade.
“My experience with The Experiment was more than anything that I could have imagined,” she said. “I returned home as a more confident, independent individual and I highly recommend that anyone and everyone take part in this program. Not only did I learn about a new culture, I met the most incredible people and had the time of my life. Going on this trip showed me that I am capable of anything and made me want to study abroad in college. No matter which [Experiment] topic you choose, you will come home a different person!”