A New School For A New Life

Exchange student arrives from France


Justine Rey riding “Mon Repaire,” training for a show in her hometown of Biarritz, France. Justine is an exchange student this year.

Justine Rey , Reporter

My name is Justine Rey and I am 15 years-old. I come from Biarritz, a small beautiful city in the south west of France near the ocean and about 20 minutes to Spain. I am in Fort Worth for now two months, and I will be here for the whole year.  

I live with a host family because I came alone.   

Why did I want to leave my country ?  

I decided to leave France because I wanted to follow my sister, who is 21, who already works in others countries like Thailand, Spain and Bali.  I arrived on Aug. 11 and since this day I have lived the most incredible experience of my life.  

I also discovered how school works here, and I’ve heard a lot of students complaining. I tell all of them that you are very lucky to be in this high school because things in France are very different. We have so many differences that I don’t know where to start.  

The first difference I found on my first day of school was that people at CTHS have different origins whereas at my school in France, we only had French people.  

Something else is your schedule: you have every day the same subjects in the same order (which, I think, can be boring).  

In France, my schedule was different every day. For example, last year, I remember starting the week with history but on Tuesdays I started with art. Oh, I didn’t tell you! You have the chance here to choose all your subjects with all the options your school offers to all the students. But before coming here, I had never had any choice of subjects I wanted to study so I had a few subjects I didn’t like just like art, music, technology, sciences…  

The worst period we have in France is test class: during one hour every week we have a test.  

A good different thing we have in France that you don’t have here is that we have breaks of 15 minutes every two hours, and we have a lunch break of one hour and a half. But you start school at 9:05 and we start at 8:30. You finish at 4:20, and we finish at 5. 

Let’s speak about holidays and no school days. First we don’t have school on Wednesdays afternoon. It is our day to practice our sports or hang out with our friends or just work.  

Then we have 16 weeks of holidays a year: two weeks in October, two weeks in December, two weeks in February, two weeks in April and eight weeks in July and August. We also have about 10 more days when we don’t have school in all the year. 

What about the classes? 

I discovered here that the teachers don’t move from class to class and the students have to, contrary to my school.  

Secondly, in France phones are forbidden and gum, food and drinks too. You have the possibility here to go to the restroom but we can’t. If we need to, we have to wait for the next break. So if you arrive just on time and you need to go you have to wait for two hours….  

Anyways, I really think that here classes are very noisy and all the tables are placed in groups whereas we do work alone in all subjects and we don’t have more than maybe five times to work in groups during the year in France.   

The buildings of my old school are much smaller than high schools in the USA.  

In the beginning of the year, you have the opportunity to have a homecoming, something not even imaginable in Biarritz. The only thing we have in France is on the last day of the year: we just bring some candies and drinks in class and that’s it.  

To conclude, I would say that I really enjoy my time here and I thank everybody who has helped me during the first days of school.