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Sunday, 11 February 2018 18:03

Get plenty of French speaking practice before and during the trip!

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Hi everyone, my name is Abigail! I am about to start my second year at Victoria University studying Development Studies, International Relations and Law.

Firstly, congratulations on being accepted to be a YA! Going to France in year 13 seems like a long time ago now, but it was an amazing trip, and I'm sure you will all enjoy it as much as I did.

Pascale asked if I had some advice to share... this may seem a little overboard, but here are some things I wish I was told before I went!

I encourage you to get as much French speaking practice as you can before you go (with a native speaker or your teacher if possible - it's a lot different than speaking with a classmate!). Then you will be able to get the most out of your trip in terms of building your language skills.

But don't stress too much about that - when you get there just do the best you can with your skill level.

My biggest regret from my trip is that I didn't do enough speaking in French. Mostly I felt that the only thing I could say was "bonjour," (not true!) which was not helped by the fact that mostly everyone spoke English before I could really switch my French brain on. At first that was helpful, but now I wish it hadn't been the case.

If your host family speak English to you because you don't initially understand (as mine did, because I didn't), I highly encourage you to ask them to persevere with you as you get used to their accents etc, and to only use English if necessary.

Another word of advice - have some outfits picked out for what you will wear to school (if you are going to a school?!). This might sound kind of silly, but actually of all the clothes I brought, I realised that because of their dress codes I didn't have much I could wear to school which I wouldn't die of heat exhaustion in, and ended up with some rather interesting outfits... some of you may not care about this, but you should go feeling confident! I just decided to go with "yeah we have totally different fashion in NZ...", even though I would never have worn those outfits to school in NZ haha.

Other than that, just throw yourself into the trip - be excited, talk to the people you will meet, become a part of your host family, and make the absolute most of your time. The nature of the trip means you will be visiting a lot of battle sites and graveyards. Appreciate the solemnity of these situations and the awfulness of the war, but ensure that you also have fun in between.

I wish you all the best for your trip - it is certainly a time you will never forget.

Bon voyage! Abigail Marshall

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Abigail Marshall

Waimea College
Nelson

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