Summer Sun to Soleil Français


Nadia Magnabosco (12) poses in front of the Castle of Saumur. Magnabosco was in France for over a month.

Tori Wilkes

Summer break is usually seen as a time to relax and take a break from school, but Nadia Magnabosco (12) traveled to Saumur, France to extend her French education.

“I found out about it my freshman year because a guy who was in pit with me did the program and spoke so highly of it. So freshman me [thought] ‘Oh, yeah this is going to be no problem,’ not knowing what all the regulations were at the time and then [Mrs. Nancy Tilka, World Language], just helped me with the rest,” Magnabosco said.

Even though Magnabosco wanted to participate, she had to go through the intense application process to see if she would get accepted.

“First I took a test to see if I was even applicable [to go] and [to see] how well my French was. After, there was a huge application asking me to describe almost everything in my life which I had to do in both English and French,” Magnabosco said.

Getting accepted came with feelings of excitement, but as the time to leave came closer, feelings of fear set in.

“When I got accepted, it just didn’t feel real. I was just so happy to be given the opportunity. I was the only person [from Lake Central] going to France. “[It was] scary [at first,]” Magnabosco said.

In this program, the students selected traveled to France for a little over a month where they were not allowed to speak any English and stayed with a host family.

“My family has always hosted exchange students, and I’ve always been interested in finding out what it was like to be one, but I was just nervous [at first] about living with people I’ve never met before and if the other kids in the program would like me,” Magnabosco said.

Upon arrival, it took the students a few weeks to get settled in and used to the program itself, but eventually they felt more comfortable and everything felt more natural.

“The third week into the program [is] when you feel at home. It’s just an awesome moment when you actually figure out how to speak in conversation and everyone in the program feels like they’re in a giant family and that you’ve established yourself,” Magnabosco said.

The intensity of the program and the strict time limits on communicating with loved ones back home proved to be a challenge, but there were new learning opportunities to be taken.

“We missed our families, but we also became a family which helped. Without my phone and laptop all the time we found other things to do, like we started knitting and making those bracelets from string that were a classic in middle school. I can bring home the bracelets and think, ‘Oh, hey I remember when we made this the entire bus ride to Normandy.’ There’s more physical things than just technology,” Magnabosco said.

The bonds that Magnabosco formed made the return bittersweet.

[Coming home] was mixed [emotions.] I was so happy to see my family, but so sad to go [because my host family] was wonderful, [and] all the students just became a giant family,” Magnabosco said.