French Exchange Student Lili Ait Ramdane (’23) Experiences BFA

Lili Ait Ramdane (23)
Photo credit: Lili Ait Ramdane

Lili Ait Ramdane (’23) Photo credit: Lili Ait Ramdane

Emily Hayden, Contributor

Vermont and France may be far away in location, but how far away are they in their culture and schooling?

Lili Ait Ramdane (‘23) is new to Vermont and Bellows Free Academy this year as an exchange student from Bordeaux, France and is trying to adjust to the quaint Vermont life. 

Not only is she having to deal with language barriers, but there are also cultural differences between the countries and differences between the education systems and course selections. 

Bordeaux is a popular place in France, compared to the quiet, smaller farming population of Vermont.  In response to this difference, Ramdane said, “My city’s population [i]s around 100,000 inhabitants, and my old school has close to 1,000 students.”

Ramdane also commented on social differences.“BFA is more reserved, and the student body doesn’t really talk a lot, and people in France are louder and we greet people by giving them kisses on the cheek,” Ramdane said.

There is also a difference between France’s strict education system, which Ramdane noted, “where students don’t get as much freedom in course selection and there are no school sports teams,” to BFA’s vast course selection and a multitude of clubs and sports

“If you want to do a sport in France, you have to join a gym because the schools do not have them,” Ramdane said.   Also, she added, “[BFA] has a lot of classes. In France,” we…go from 8 a.m. to 5 or 6 p.m.You also have lockers.”

Being a foreign exchange student can have its negatives, but it opens you up to meeting new people like Ramdane has and also getting to experience new cultures and experiences. 

Experiencing new cultures can help you better understand how people are based on their environment, and you get to learn about new cultures that best fit you. It can also help you become more empathetic.

If you are interested in France or more about French culture or schooling, please contact Lili Alt Ramdane.