I apologize for the tardiness of this post as it’s been a few days since I’ve been able to get on here and do a little bit of writing. Since last Thursday, our group has been pretty busy in terms of learning of cultural and educational differences, visiting different schools in the area as well as spending an entire weekend in Paris.

To my surprise, I’m drawing more similarities between our two cultures as opposed to distinct differences. For example, education is highly regarded as the main focus of any adolescent in France, simply because they have much to do in preparation for “le Bac”. It seems as if there is not much more of a higher priority other than school work. In the U.S., of course, most students like to balance academics with sports or an after school job, but not here. French teens may be in school for eight hour or more a day, then continue home to work on subjects for another four hours or more. After-school jobs are uncommon, as are drivers liscences and first cars. While American teens may have a different day schedule or social life than someone such as my host sister Lucie, there is still a common trait among our adolescents: a great work ethic towards achieving future success.

We also visited an amazing technological high school on Thursday, not far from Noisy-le-Roi. While there, we learned how students who excel in math and science become more fluent in their skills, meanwhile preparing for a lucrative career in the business or technology. As a French teen, you are given the opportunity to choose a “focus” (math, science, economics, literature, foreign languages, etc.) in preparation for le Bac, similar to how college students in the U.S. choose a major. So, in other words, you’re choosing a distinct path for yourself, even at a very young age.

I’m not quite sure how that would work for American teens, coming from a guy who switched his mind on careers about 200 times since the age of 10.

Apart from that, Dan Willenberg and I spent the weekend in Paris with his older brother Dave, who is an English teacher in Hamburg. We made it a priority to skip around the cliche tourist activities and truly immerse ourselves in French culture, meeting natives from the neighborhood and catching up with new friends that knew Dave from previous years. Needless to say, I feel like a gained a perspective of Paris in a way that most tourists may not–by spending it with the French.