French Exchange Experience - Student Perspective

Sara Halimi
My name is Sara Halimi and five months ago I went to North Carolina. At first my mom suggested that I go to learn English in an American school, but I refused because I was scared to leave for so long. Then I started thinking that this could be a great way of learning English and meeting new people. So at the end I said yes.
D-day came very quickly. I met the French boy who was in the same program when I got to the airport in Paris. We were both scared but not for the same reasons. I was scared that the host family was not going to like me, that I wasn’t going to be able to live with them and be happy, and that I wasn’t going to be able to wake up in the morning (of course nothing like this happened!). The fears of this boy was more about what he was going to eat, or how he was going to watch his soccer games, and if there was going to be Wi-Fi or not. I know that for him too everything went well with his family, and that all his fears went away!
It only took a couples of days to get used to this great family. They were warm, caring and hospitable. David and Jennifer had three children: Zach (14), Zoey (12) and Alyssa (10). They had two dogs, Buster and Mika, one cat, Tiger, and twelve chickens.

I did a lot of things with them. I loved watching Zoey’s and Alyssa’s baseball and hockey games. I went to the synagogue with them. I discovered different Jewish customs from my own, but the prayers and beliefs remained the same. At the end of my stay, I participated in a play “Aladdin”: my role was Abu, the monkey, Zoey was the genie and Alyssa was the principal narrator. I really loved it. I remember going to an amusement park with Zoey. We wanted to go to an attraction that went over 90 miles per hour. We only waited a half an hour instead of the usual two hours. It was the best attraction! I also went to the mall, and I really liked it. Near the end of my trip, Jennifer and David took us to Bald Head Island. It was really pretty, and I liked it a lot. I think it’s the place where I got lost the most with Zoey despite the small size of the island. I bathed with all my clothes on! That was cool.

I went to the O’Neal School which was really big. They had baseball and hockey fields. The school was surrounded by a lot of really tall trees. They had rules but weren’t strict. The students worked, but it was still fun. Most importantly, people were nice and welcoming. I also discovered that some of the teachers knew how to speak French!

The last day, we organized a goodbye party with my friends. In the plane I had mixed feelings: I was sad to leave my new family and friends, but I was happy that I was going to see my parents and brothers again.

I recommend this program for people who are adventurous. Even if three months seems long, time flies when you’re having fun, and I had fun! It was the best experience of my entire life!
Serving Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Whispering Pines, Sanford, West End, Aberdeen, and areas surrounding Moore County, NC.

The O’Neal School
3300 Airport Road
Southern Pines, NC 28387

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