my Name is Mathilde Schletter and at the time when I had the exchange I was 16 years old. I live in the northern part of Germany. My mom is French and France is my second home. The fact that I lived there just during the holidays and never had the chance to experience school in France made me interested in the Erasmus+ project. I expected to see how school works in France compared to German schools and I was interested to see other families and their everyday-life.
I took the plane from Hamburg to Nantes. In Nantes a teacher picked me up, took me to Lorient and showed around a little before he dropped me off at my host family’s house.
All in all, I had three host families. They all received me very well and I felt really welcome. I got along with my host siblings very well and we did many activities and trips.
When I came into my new class the next morning most of the students were curious and integrated me right away. I visited some other classes and felt comfortable everywhere.
But I was not really accepted by the English teacher. When I talked to the teacher who was responsible for me, she put me in another English class and everything was all right from then on. Unfortunately, I only had one English lesson due to my sudden departure because of Covid 19.
Another problem was due to a surgery that I underwent shortly before: I wasn’t able to do any sports.
My schooldays looked like this:
School began at 8 o’clock. On Mondays and Thursdays it ended at 5:25 p.m., on Tuesdays at 4:30 pm. On Wednesdays, school ends early at 11:55 so that pupils have time for hobbies and on Fridays it ended at 3:20 pm. There was a lunch break from 11:55 to 1:30.
Some differences between the German and the French school system I noticed:
- In France school lessons are 55 minutes long and there aren’t any small breaks in between the lessons like at my school in Germany.
- Normally German schools have not that many long days a week.
- In France every subject is taught in another class. In Germany pupils have their own fix classroom.
- German lunch breaks take 45 minutes while French lunch breaks take double that
- German classes are smaller than French ones, German ones are allowed to have 31 children maximum, French ones can have up to forty pupils
- German lessons are much more interactive, French ones are mostly frontal teaching and oral participation is not that important for grades.
The advantages of German school are:
- to have more time for hobbies after school because it ends earlier than French schools.
The advantage of French schools are:
- French schools have the same number of students and are as big as German schools but they have just 3 sections. You are surrounded by people who are not that much older or younger than you. In my opinion this makes socializing and growing up easier.
One thing in the French school system that is actually disadvantageous are really long schooldays. The last family I lived with lived out of town and I had to take 50-minute bus rides to and from school. When the school-day was over there were days the buses had a different schedule and I had to wait for 40 minutes. Long days are stressful for French students who have long ways home, they still have to eat and do a lot of homework after they get home. They go to bed late and have to get up early and are tired all day long which is not good for your concentration.
I don’t really think school is stressful. It can be if you have a lot to do but I think three weeks of school in the French school system were not enough to find things that are stressful.
The German school system could copy the lunch break time French schools have. I think having a longer lunch break at long schooldays is better because I experienced that everyone was more motivated for the coming lessons than they are in Germany and indeed I felt refreshed and the lessons after break were calm and productive.
French schools could copy the number of students in one class. The students would work even better and are more concentrated if there are less students in one class because big classes can lead to a lot of noise and thus the students would be more attentive.
I only knew 20 hours before my plane took off that I would travel back to Kiel so my stay ended very abruptly and I missed being able to say goodbye. I was sad that I had only spent 3 weeks at school.
I travelled back the same way I travelled to Lorient.
But I think due to my stay in Lorient I have learned a lot. I have learned much about myself, have lived in other conditions and have adapted to many people in a short time. I have seen how different schools can be and have learned to like things at my school that I didn’t appreciate or that I had taken for granted. I met other people my age with different attitudes than mine or my friends’. My stay was a big experience and I really like to look at photos I took and I’m sad my stay ended that abruptly but when I came back home, I felt good and more confident. I still keep in touch with some people I met and when Covid is over I would like to visit them in Lorient again.