Excited and eager, described the atmosphere in the air on the morning of the 9th of October 2019. Forty students stood in Sainsbury's car park, chatting animatedly gripping their suitcases in one hand, awaiting the arrival of the coach to carry them on an adventure to the Home stay in Rouen, Normandy.  I was one of these students, keen to improve my French speaking skills as well as seeing France in real life for the first time. 


Initially, it sounded daunting staying in the house of a complete stranger but upon arriving we realised just how friendly the host family was. Raveena Boopathy commented ‘the host family was really nice and didn’t yell at us when we were too loud’. I and many others also found the host family supportive in allowing us to develop in our french speaking and listening skills.


In Normandy, we had the opportunity to study at the Language School twice. Here, we were split into three groups of about 15 students and our teacher would only speak French throughout the whole lesson. Although understanding was hard at first ,I found this useful as it trained my ear to listen and understand French. 


In the afternoon, we were treated to a cookery class where we made two famous delicacies of France - Croissants and Pain au Chocolats. In this class, we spent the two hours rolling the pastry into the famous croissant and pain au chocolat. Afterwards, each person was rewarded with a bag of warm pastries they had just made to enjoy. Everyone, including myself, found it very enjoyable. Raveena described that ‘making the pastries was quite fun’ and Melissa Delaney said ‘it was cool to try and make French croissants’. 


Complemented by all the students, was the food. From a cute, little patisserie shop near the Language School, I bought a Paris-Brest (a french dessert made of choux pastry and a praline flavoured cream). Oluchi Ijeh said ‘I really enjoyed the food in Rouen and there were loads of authentic restaurants and boulangeries that served great croissants, soups, etc.’ Melissa also described ‘the food was nice’. 


Oluchi also commented on the friendliness of everyone she met in the town, ‘I also loved how friendly and welcoming people were either on the streets or in the shops. Lots of french people dress really well and I had some great conversations with lots of people on the bus’.  Everyone there was very helpful and willing to share their culture with us. 


On the last day, we were treated to a visit Monet’s house in Giverny. Personally, I was very excited for this day, having had researched Monet for my art exam last year. Walking around the beautiful gardens, was spectacular and awe striking. In particular, seeing the lillies and the bridge used in Monet’s paintings was breathtaking.There were lots of interesting flowers and beautiful views. I, also, enjoyed going inside the house and admiring all the paintings. Melissa said ‘ I enjoyed Monet’s garden. The flower’s were great and the house was interesting’.We concluded our trip at the gift shop which presented itself as a great place for a shopping spree for everyone, students and teachers alike. 


The trip to Rouen was enjoyed by everyone so much that most, if not all, regretted leaving. From the beautiful views to the language to the tasty food, it will be an unforgettable trip where we learnt so much that could not be gained from the classroom as well as making lots of memories to stay with us forever. 

By Gulcin Erten, Newstead Wood School