Every year there is a new class of exchange students that come to HHS from another country to experience American life.
HHS senior Karl Hagen took advantage of the opportunity to visit France this past summer.
“I did an exchange with a stranger named Baptiste who stayed with me for one month over the summer, and then I stayed with him for one month,” says Hagen.
Hagen’s exchange student did not visit during the school year, although he still had many opportunities to experience West Lafayette.
Since he was in France, Hagen missed the first two weeks of school.
He said that it was well worth it based on the amount of exposure to the culture.
“I had a lot of fun, and it was an eye-opening experience.”
Hagen stayed in multiple places with his host family while he was in France – the first being Paris, where they lived.
“In Paris, traveling by foot was easiest, but we also used the Metro to get around on a daily basis,” said Hagen.
When they left Paris, Hagen went to Saméon, France, a city in the mountains in the east of France. Next, they went to a small town named Montagnac-sur-Lède, which is where Hagen spent the majority of the time with his host family.
Culture and daily life in France is much different than in the United States.
“There is a lot more history there, and as far as culture goes, people are a lot closer with their friends,” said Hagen.
Another important aspect of French culture is their food.
“They put a lot more passion into their food,” says Hagen. “They care about their food. Imagine having the best meal of your life. And now imagine having that meal three times a day, every day.”
Based on his impression of French cuisine, everyone can hope to experience it someday. Hagen experienced much of France, and saw the foremost sights such as Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower.
Hagen also beheld many extravagant castles all over the area, one of which he explored the dungeons inside.
“But my favorite thing that I saw was a massive cathedral on the top of a hill overlooking Paris,” says Hagen. “The view was beautiful and the size of the cathedral was overwhelming.”
Hagen did a lot in France, although he does wish that he had visited more of the cities, and had the chance to explore more.
Hagen spoke with his exchange student after he left France, and was happy to hear that his new friend plans to come back to the United States next year.
Travel can spark an interest in different cultures, languages, and histories, and luckily Hagen was able to sample them all.