We’ve had two days filled with school orientations, tours, welcome picnics and lunches with new friends. We are meeting families from everywhere including one that read a sheet over my shoulder and said, “You’re from Middleton? I grew up in Whitewater.” Some are here for a semester, most for a year and others that were here, went back for a year and decided to return until their kids graduate. But everyone is excited to be here and we’ve only heard great things about the school. A warning from many: unlike American schools where you ease into the school year and progressively get more busy or difficult as the year goes on, this will start off hard, really hard, but by the holidays feel very comfortable and, in turn, quite easy by year’s end. Message to the kids at orientation yesterday: Put on your thick skin and work very, very hard. No computers until homework is done, eat breakfast, rest each night and follow all the rules. Message to the parents (especially the college/middle school parents): Don’t be discouraged in the first few weeks when your kids come home saying (and try to imagine this being said by a lovely British Headmaster): “I hate you! You’ve taken me away from my friends and my life and I can’t do any of this work or understand anything anyone is saying!” She promised it won’t last long. We left with carte de sortie (Exit Cards), carte de canteen (Lunch Cards), carnet de correspondence (the booklet Sarah brings home every night that will include all her current grades and messages from teachers), school calendars, school rules, school maps, examples of how to write a French check and much more.
In between Elizabeth and Julian’s morning orientation and Sarah’s afternoon visit, we were treated to lunch by the Parent Partner family that we have been in touch with since the spring. They have been fantastic; they have a daughter Sarah’s age and decided to stay for one more year. They are originally from Lake Forest but lived most recently in Naples, Florida. Can’t even describe how gracious they have been.
Today we gathered for a Welcome Picnic on the Champs de Mars (Eiffel Tower). I gotta say, it kind of surpassed all other school welcome events I’ve been to. It was two hours of kids in their classes playing all sorts of games to get to know one another and parents looking for other parents that had similar colored name tags, signifying that you had kids in a common class.
For Tom and I, we are enjoying the connection of all the adults going through the same experiences we are and are looking forward to developing our own friendships as we go through this journey together. I am signed up as a Class Correspondent for Sarah’s class (I’m sure that is surprising) and we are looking forward to our Parent Cocktail event next Thursday evening.
As for the kids and their experiences over the last two days, well, I’ll let them share their stories:
Sarah – The Welcome picnic was great! I met lots of new friends and now I won’t feel as if I don’t know anyone. I met basically my whole class except for a couple of people. We get our schedules on Wednesday, a day before school starts which is a change. I can’t wait for the first day of school!!
Elizabeth – I loved the Welcome picnic! It was definitely full of fun and laughter! I met a ton of nice friends and I can not wait for the first day of school! The funny thing was that when we got into our groups we had about five people in the group that were supposed to be in a different group! We had two little girls in our group that were supposed to be in 2nd grade and we had a girl that was 8, we also had a boy that was our age but was already speaking french so he should have been with the french kids! Over all it was so fun and amazing and I am so happy that I have kids from all over the world in my class! I even have a girl named Elizabeth from Spain, Olivia from Brooklyn, New York and Nona from Flagstaff, Arizona! There is a girl named Ella but I forgot where she was from!
Julian – The welcome party was very fun. You got to learn everybody’s name and where they lived before they came to Paris, and they came from everywhere, i mean everywhere. Japan, Spain, Poland, Manchester, Brooklyn, Arizona and Taiwan. Im just glad that i can come home and say that i have friends all over the world.