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Students say “bonjour” to New Caledonia

Students say “bonjour” to New Caledonia

They say when you’re in France you must do as the French do. A group of 14 St Paul’s students had the opportunity to do just that over the term one holidays as they ventured to the South Pacific French territory of New Caledonia as part of their language studies.

With a goal to immerse themselves in the French culture and improve their understanding of the language, the students were each billeted with a local host family for their weeklong stay in the island’s capital, Noumea.

Time with their adoptive families was spent exploring markets, festivals and theatre shows while getting a taste for the local cuisine – some students even plucking up the courage to try escargot!

But it wasn’t all patisseries and profiteroles – the students also attended local school, Lycee du Grand Noumea, where classes were taught exclusively in French.

“It was interesting seeing the differences and similarities between school in New Caledonia and St Paul’s. It was sometimes hard to keep up when you could only understand broken words but we did our best” says Gustav Jooste (Year 11).

They also took classes at Creipac, a French language school located near the Noumea University campus, where they focused on gaining a firmer grasp on the vocabulary and learning new phrases.

A trip to the National Museum provided an insight into the indigenous Kanak people, and students drew parallels with Maori culture and language.

“It was interesting to see how the French and Kanak cultures had mixed and developed throughout New Caledonia.”

Scheduled downtime saw the group and their host families head to Amedée Island where they went scuba diving and snorkelling, spotted sea life on a glass-bottomed boat and climbed the island’s 56m high lighthouse to take in stunning views of the island reefs.

“It was a great experience and one that I’m sure almost all of us would love to repeat in the future. We were able to experience a completely different culture and language, which has contributed greatly in bolstering our French-speaking capacities.”

-Rachel Fitness