Enrich your life

10 Ways Being a Foreign Exchange Student Will Enrich Your Life Forever

When studying abroad, especially while staying with a host family, there are the obvious advantages: learning a new language and making new friends. But there’s so much more to it. This experience of being a foreign exchange student and living as the locals do will serve you for the rest of your life.  Here are the top 10 ways it will change your life: 

1. Breaking out

The decision alone to be a foreign exchange student is HUGE! It can be frightening, exciting, worrisome, thrilling all at the same time. Just getting on that plane and taking that step into the unknown is amazing in itself, and not many people have that ability to just go and see where it takes you.

2. Experience a new way of thinking

Living with a host family will give you the opportunity of seeing everything from their eyes and it’s often different than what you learned growing up. Some examples may be: Seeing that bread is a staple in their daily lives and it comes straight from the bakery, not the grocery store. Lunch is a more important meal than dinner. It makes more sense to take public transportation than drive your own car. You need less space than you may think to live. Fresh meals are more important than frozen or pre-packaged meals. Cheese can be a dessert.  School days can be extremely long and rigorous, and sports are often not important in education. After seeing another perspective, in future careers, you’ll be able to see both sides of the coin and facilitate discussions between parties.

3. Respect diversity

People are different everywhere, yet they are also the same. Until you spend some time in another country, it can be hard to understand this. Maybe you’ll feel called to continue with a career along these lines, or doing volunteer work when you return to the states.

4. Become more independent

When traveling abroad, you learn to be very independent very quickly. You learn to speak with strangers to get directions, because you can only pretend you know where you’re going for so long. You learn to read maps, in other languages. You learn that you can do whatever you put your mind to. This is HUGE!

 5. Language Immersion

Yes, if you immerse yourself in another language, you will learn another language. You’ll also pick up slang words, speech patterns, sentence structure, accents, and favorite phrases of your host family. Maybe you’ll even learn to distinguish the different accents of the country depending on which region you are in. You’ll learn the language taking the bus, going to the grocery store, going to the bank, ordering a meal, telling people about where you are from, and when making new friends. And you’ll learn it all much more quickly than learning from a book or language learning podcasts. Your language skills will become remarkable and impressive.

 6Adaptability

 You need to be able to adapt to anything, and without letting it fluster you. Buses will be late, trains will be late, you’ll be wearing the wrong thing, you’ll misunderstand someone about a meeting time or place, you’ll have to eat food you don’t particularly like, you’ll have to wear damp clothes because you didn’t realize they don’t use a dryer and hanging everything to dry takes longer than you thought. Make no mistake about it, this is a SKILL that a lot of people don’t have and it will serve you well in your future careers. 

7. Learn more about your own culture

You may be amazed at how often people will ask you about where you came from while you are living abroad. Sometimes they may even know more than you! You may also be surprised to find that they may ask questions like the population of your state, what the transportation like, what the #1 import in your state is, what the economy and housing market are like in your state, what is your policy on immigration. You will become a walking resource for your state and country!

8.Become a local

 When you’re able to spend some time in a new country and become part of the community, it will go beyond what the famous monument for that city is, or where the best restaurant is. You’ll know the shortest route from your bus to your home. You’ll know which market is the best for cheese and where to buy a pastry or flowers when you’ve been invited to dinner at someone’s house (or even that you SHOULD bring a pastry or flowers when you’ve been invited to dinner!). You’ll learn where the pharmacy is and what to do if you get sick. You’ll learn how to set up a bank account. While doing these things, you’ll also become part of the community… your community. You’ll have an understanding of the country which is much deeper than anyone who just spent a 2 days there on a bus tour.

9. Stories for a lifetime

When speaking with people who have been a foreign exchange student abroad, whether it was 5 years ago or 50 years ago, they still have stories and often they still have friends abroad whom they are still in contact with. These are stories to pass down to your children and maybe even your grandchildren.

 10Travel bug

 The Travel bug is a real thing. Not real in that it’s a real bug, but that it really does exist. Once you’ve traveled abroad and learned ALL the skills above and you realize how amazing it is to discover new cultures and new places, you’ll want to keep traveling. There’s so much to see in this big world of ours, and so much to experience. You’ll no longer be satisfied with learning about a culture on the internet. You’ll long to be part of the culture and to experience it for yourself.

Enjoy the journey!

Student taking pictures in France

Educational Tours in France

Whether you’re passionate about art, culture, history, architecture or exotic food, France has everything for those who love learning. Even before a college study abroad program, there are dozens of educational tours to help middle and high school students get the most out of the unique and interesting country of France.  

Enjoy coffee at a chic cafe at the Champs-Élysées, or an unforgettable meal in a brasserie hidden in Paris’ Latin Corner. Stroll the beaches of Normandy and stand on the battle site where Allied forces landed to liberate occupied France.. No matter what site or region piques your interest, France has plenty of gorgeous and educational destinations for students of all ages.

Explorica – Best of France Tour

Explorica, a travel company based out of Boston, offers plenty of opportunities for educational travel in France. For those students looking for an overview of the country, try Explorica’s Best of France tour. The 15-17 day trip introduces students to the culturally rich and diverse regions of France. From the chic shops of the Champs-Élysées to the historic Gothic châteaux in the Loire Valley to the picturesque beaches of the French Riviera, students will be able to explore the best sites in the country.

Prométour – French Classes & Homestay in Nice

Prométour Educational Tours have a few different options for students traveling to France, including their French Classes & Homestay in Nice tour, which lasts eight days. Throughout this educational tour, you’ll visit four cities in the southern part of the country: Nice, Monaco, Cannes and Eze. In each city, the students partake in a three-hour French class, where they learn the language, lifestyle and culture of France. Additionally, students are allowed to explore the cities and learn about the history of each place.

Education First – Paris in Depth Tour

Education First offers a comprehensive tour with their eight-day trip, Paris in Depth. With all-inclusive benefits, like round-trip flights, transportation throughout the trip, accommodations, a dedicated tour director, meals and activities, teachers can rest easy knowing everything is taken care of. Students will have the chance to take guided tours of popular attractions like the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre and Notre-Dame de Paris, among others. On day four, students are allowed to explore Paris on their own.

Jumpstreet Educational Tours – France Class Trip

If World War II history sparks your interest, Jumpstreet Educational Tours offer a 10-day trip to Paris, Normandy, Brittany and the Loire Valley. The trip starts in Normandy and Brittany, where you’ll retrace the roots of the Second World War. An afternoon can be spent exploring the beaches of Normandy at Longues-Sur-Mer where you can learn about the battles that happened during World War II, as well as the fortifications of the Atlantic Wall built by Nazi Germany. Of course, the tour also offers more than just war history – on day three you’ll visit Leonardo da Vinci’s home, the Clos Lucé, and the next day you’ll visit the expansive Palace of Versailles, among other adventures.

Vistas In Education – Family Stay & Custom Tours

VIE and their French partner APEC use their expert knowledge of France to offer custom educational tours throughout all of France, including standard tours of Normandy, Brittany and the Loire Valley; the Côte d’Azur and Provence; and Reims, Alsace and the French alps. Touring with a French government-certified guide allows travelers the opportunity to immerse themselves in French culture, enjoy authentic regional cuisine, and brush up on their French language skills before the capstone of the trip, a stay with a French family and a group dinner at the Eiffel Tower.

With the Family Stay, Vistas In Education gives students the unique opportunity to immerse themselves into the culture and become more than just tourists. Students make the most of what they’ve learned in the classroom and apply it to real life. Each student is welcomed as a member of their French host family and experiences the French lifestyle firsthand.. French host families will have a teenage son or daughter living at home and American students will have the chance to attend school when in session.

Son Tours – France History Tours

Son Tours strives to bring the enchanting past of France back to life with their History Tours. From imposing gothic cathedrals to royal medieval castles found in Burgundy, Anjou, Picardy, Champagne, and Alsace – students will be transported back to the time where kings and queens ruled supreme. Give your students a chance to learn about the age of the Renaissance, the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans or even back to the prehistoric period in Aquitaine, where cave paintings still exist from Europe’s earliest humans.

French Links – Unexplored Paris

French Links offers the self-proclaimed “Francophiles’ Delight” with its Unexplored Paris tour. Ideal for a week or long weekend trip, the main intention of this tour is to take you away from the standard tourist-flooded attractions and let you see another side of Paris. These hidden gems will educate and delight the student traveler, as they travel through the Marais District, the Covered Passages and the Bercy District, as well as little-known museums, art studios and more. With several different types of guided tour offerings, such as A Women’s History of Paris, Celebrities in Stone, the Middle Ages in the 21st Century and even a private cruise on the Seine.

Educational Advantage Tours – Rome Florence, Nice, Paris

This 10-day tour from Educational Advantage will give students an in-depth look into some of the most historical places in France. The Rome Colosseum will introduce students to the majesty of Roman architecture and learn about their culture. After three days in Rome, students will head to Florence and marvel at the most famous sculpture in the world, Michaelangelo’s David. On day seven, they’ll explore more of great works of classical artists, when they visit the Chagall and Matisse Museums in Nice. The trip concludes in Paris, where students can wander the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, Palace of Versailles and the Eiffel Tower.

ACIS – Le Grand Voyage Tour

With this educational tour of Trouville, the Loire Valley, Paris, Provence and Cote d’Azur, students will have an action-packed 10-day tour of the most visited regions of France. Students will be tasked with learning about the appeal and impact tourism has had in France over the last 150 years. They’ll also have the chance to explore a number of different historic sites, such as the Pont du Gard Roman aqueduct and the Château de Chenonceau.

Travelbound – Normandy-Château du Molay Food Technology

With this culinary-themed tour offered by Travelbound, student groups have the opportunity to learn about the rich culinary heritage and traditions of Normandy. Highlights of the tour include an exquisite frogs’ legs and snails tasting at dinner, some quality time with goats at a cheese farm, bread baking courses at a boulangerie, and French food preparation and ingredients training. Those students interested in learning about the food of France will relish in the chance to take expert cooking lessons at a local restaurant or culinary school.

Anglo Educational Tours – Tour The Somme

Anglo Educational Tours offer many options to the student traveling to France. One of their most popular choices, however, is the tour of the Somme. Here, students can explore some exceptionally interesting sites and enrich their learning by visiting the places read about in books. As the location of the largest battle of World War I on the Western Front, the Battle of the Somme, this tour will take students through the history and outcomes of this major international upheaval. Visit the Museum of the Great War and learn how the Allies fought off the Central Powers in 1916 during the four and a half month battle, in which more than one million soldiers were wounded or killed.

ProActive Travel – Educational Tour to Paris

With ProActive Travel’s Tour to Paris, students will be thrown into a rich and cultural experience that they can’t find in a classroom. Students are guided through all of the best attractions, like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée Marmottan Monet. Students can also easily combine their trip to Paris with guided tours of other cities, such as Normandy and the chateaus of the Loire Valley.

CEI Europe Tours – West France Tour

This tour, offered by CEI, is ideal for student groups interested in history and culture. With customizable itineraries, students can learn about some of the most intriguing attractions in the Western France region. From famous castles to the breathtaking Mont Saint-Michel Abbey, CEI offers an unforgettable experience at an affordable rate.

Rocknroll Adventures – Educational School Tours to France

With Rocknroll Adventures, students will be whisked away and immersed in the French culture on a completely custom trip. To ensure that the student group enjoys every moment of their trip, Rocknroll offers a healthy balance of outdoor adventure with historical and cultural experiences. With a designated program every day, they take the stress off of the teacher or group leader and do all the organizational work for you.

Bon Voyage!

Whether you want to take a stroll along the Seine River, look out upon Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower, cook up some local cuisine or learn about the solemn history of WWII, there’s no shortage of educational tours for students in France.

Whether you’re a teacher or student looking to travel to France, there are learning opportunities for learners of all ages. With a France’s rich heritage in art, culture, history and architecture, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful country. There’s plenty to see, so what are you waiting for? All you need is a sense of adventure!

Schedule Your Tour Today with Vistas In Education!

If you’re dreaming of traveling to France, while learning all about the country’s history, culture and language along the way, reach out to Vistas In Education today. We offer a number of different opportunities for teachers and students alike. We’ll take the stress and hassle of organizing a student trip off your shoulders, giving you peace of mind knowing that everything like flight tickets, transportation, accommodations and meals are well taken care of. From personalized Family Stay programs to custom educational tours, we offer our clients an experience that they will never forget.

Find out why our clients continue to put their trust in VIE – get in touch with us today!

 

map of france's cities

The Students Guide to Exploring Different Regions of France

Are you getting ready for the trip of a lifetime? For students travelling to France, you’ll be embarking on an adventure that you won’t soon forget – full of history, art, architecture, and of course food.

Every region in France is unique and features different opportunities for days of sightseeing and adventures. If you’re hopping the pond and heading to France, be sure to research the country’s most popular areas so you can make the most of your time abroad.

We’ll help you out by highlighting some of the top regions and départements (the French equivalent of an American state) that we think you should explore.

Île-de-France

Surrounded by rivers including Essonne, Epte, Aisne, Eure, Ourcq, and the region-spanning Seine which separates the two sides of Paris, the Ile de France region is where the country as we know it was born. In this temperate basin, the most popular cities for student tourists include Paris, Versailles, Fontainebleau and Giverny. With lively culture abound, you’ll find trendy bistros, quaint cafes and quirky bookshops mixed with medieval monuments and ancient landmarks around every corner. If you’re looking for old-world charm and the epitome of French culture, Ile de France is the region for you.

The Loire Valley

This region boasts two ancient provinces, Anjou and Touraine, which were adored by French royalty and nobility. Before Henry IV moved his court to Paris, kings, princes and barons built the most gorgeous castles in the Loire Valley. Some of these castles include Chambord, Cheverny, Amboise, and Villandry. Many are available to tour for a small fee.

Brittany

Extending into the Atlantic Ocean, Brittany occupies the westernmost region of the country, where rocky coastlines, celtic heritage, rainy weather and a regional language and history define the culture.

The area is home to many ancient archeological wonders. In fact, one of the oldest hearths in the world has been found in Plouhinec, Finistère, and is still standing at an age of 450,000 years old.

Carnac, the area’s most historic city, is home to one of the most extensive Neolithic menhir (ancient, massive standing stone) collections in the world. Celtic tribes inhabited the region following the prehistoric era, and ties to the Gaelic tongues of Wales and Ireland can still be heard in the local language of Breton.

This region is also a popular destination for French vacationers who visit the sandy beaches, jutting cliffs and relatively affordable lifestyle.

Normandy

Since we’re on the subject of historical places, Normandy, located in northern France, is home to one of the most famous sites of World War II: the D-Day landing beaches. But with over 370 miles of coastline and a thriving tourist industry, there’s plenty to see beyond the 1944 invasion site. It’s a favored getaway spot for those retreating from the congestion and pace of cities, and many hotels, restaurants and shopping centers are frequented by tourists year-round. A few other fantastic attractions in the region include the Rouen cathedral, the abbey of Jumièges, the island abbey of Mont St. Michel, and medieval Bayeux with its famous tapestry.

The Ardennes & Northern Beaches

Often overlooked by American tourists, this northern region is known for its beach resorts and historic sights. This region, bordering Belgium, features one of the most embattled areas in France, with its best known port, Calais being a contested military stronghold for centuries.

Today’s port is more peaceful, filled with ferries instead of battle ships for tourists to travel along its waters. If you’re interested in historical architecture, try visiting the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Amiens, the medieval capital of Picardy, featuring the highest nave in France at 138 feet high.

Lorraine

Located in the northeast corner of France, Lorraine borders Germany, Belgium, and Luxembourg. While Lorraine is the famous for being the birthplace of Joan of Arc and the countless wars it has experienced, those aren’t the only things that draws students to the region.

The peaks of the Vosges forest is the nearest thing to an extensive wilderness area you’ll find in France and offers pleasant hiking trails for the outdoorsman.

With renowned cuisine — especially the signature foie gras et choucroute (fattened duck or goose liver and sauerkraut) — wines and beers, Lorraine is a hotspot for foodies from all over the world.

Champagne

Champagne offers historical sightseeing like no other region in the country. A significant amount of France’s history is tied with the region’s holy site of Reims, where every French monarch since A.D. 496 has been crowned. Any invader wishing to take Paris would have to first go through Reims and the Champagne district. Even all the way up to World War I, the region has been exposed a large amount of brutal battles.

If you’re a student of age (legal drinking age in France is 18), here’s a fun fact: The 78-mile road from Reims to Vertus, one of the Routes of Champagne, is home to a trio of winegrowing regions that produce 80 percent of the world’s champagne.

Burgundy

If you’re looking for leisurely time off from your studies, head to the Burgundy region of France, which is filled with incredible cuisine – local specialties include dijon mustard, boeuf bourguignon, coq au vin, and wines coveted the world over.

You’ll also find stunning old-world cities, like the capital, Dijon.  Known as the “City of a Hundred Towers”, Dijon  was once the Roman crossroads between the Mediterranean and northern Europe and was home to the mighty Dukes of Burgundy.

If you’re interested in religious history, head to the region’s Fontenay Abbey, where churches, cloisters, dormitories and more have been preserved for centuries. This gives visitors a chance to glimpse into what life was like in a medieval Cistercian abbey.

Wine Regions of Bordeaux

Another area that sees fewer American tourists is the wine regions of Bordeaux. While the area mostly offers flat, fertile land, it is home to towns that were pivotal in French history. Saintes, for example, has noteworthy Gallo-Roman, medieval and classical heritage, making it a popular tourist destination and a member of the French Towns and Lands of Art and History.

Active in wine and liquor production, the area’s villages also produce such celebrated libations such as Cognac, Margaux, St. Emilion and Sauternes. With abundant wine growing areas, varying widely in size and sometimes overlapping, the region is centred around the city of Bordeaux.

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

Occupying the lower-eastern portion of the country, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes is a newly-formed region that features the country’s second-largest metropolitan area, Lyon. Just a short, two-hour train ride from Paris, it’s relatively easy to get to the place known as France’s “Second City.”  As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lyon is known for its historical and architectural landmarks and its role in the history of cinema.

A good time to visit the city is during its famous light festival, Fête des Lumières, occurring every December, allowing Lyon to claim the title “Capital of Lights.” From Lyon, you can travel north to explore through the Rhône Valley toward Provence. Travel south of Lyon and you’ll be able to see medieval villages and ancient Roman ruins in Pérouges and Vienne.

The French Alps

Bordering the Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur regions, the French Alps offer some of the world’s best skiing. With snowcapped mountains, ancient glaciers and crystal-clear alpine lakes, the French Alps also feature some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery. While the region attracts some of the most affluent people from all over the world, if you’re a student on a budget, we’ve got some good news. Lift ticket prices are a fraction of the price that they are in the United States. Chamonix, a famous ski resort facing Mont Blanc, western Europe’s highest mountain, has one-day passes that range from $47 to $67. If you’re travelling to the French Alps during the summer, you can visit indulgent spa resorts including Evian and the relaxing 19th-century resorts at Lake Geneva.

Provence

Home of the French Alps and bordered by Italy on its eastern side, Provence has often been considered the playground of the rich and famous. With premier destinations like Aix-en-Provence, associated with Hemingway and Cézanne; Arles, the city known as “The Soul of Provence” and captured in a famous painting by Vincent van Gogh; Avignon, the 14th-century capital of Christianity; and Marseille, the country’s third largest city, after Lyon and Paris. The unknown beauties of the region include Nostradamus’s birthplace of St-Rémy-de-Provence and Les Baux de Provence.  Nature enthusiasts will find a myriad of options for hiking and camping.

Côte d’Azur – The French Riviera

The majesty of the Azure Coast makes it a tourist hotspot in the country of France. It’s an affordable option for students who want to travel to its famed beaches and coastal resorts. Nice, the region’s biggest city, is a popular destination for French tourists that want to visit the Mediterranean Sea.

Since the Renaissance, the picturesque surroundings of Nice have attracted not only those beach-goers and sun-bathers, but some of Western culture’s most notable painters like Henri Matisse, Arman and Marc Chagall. Their work is proudly displayed in the city’s many museums, including Musée Marc Chagall, Musée Matisse and Musée des Beaux-Arts.

The Dordogne

The land of delightful foie gras and delectable truffles, found in southwestern France is also home to some of Europe’s oldest settlements. Dordogne offers gourmet eating and wine-tasting, gorgeous chateaux, villages and historic sights, making it one of the most popular vacation destinations in France. In the Périgord, the cave paintings at Les Eyzies have shown traces of Cro-Magnon (first early modern human) settlements.

The Pyrénées

Located along the border with Spain between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, southwestern France features one of Europe’s most unique cultures. The region’s hidden villages, beach towns, and culinary traditions are ripe for discovery for anyone travelling through France.

Biarritz, on the Atlantic, features some of the best surfing in France. Toulouse, a major city and the regional capital of Occitanie, boasts two UNESCO World Heritage sites — the Canal du Midi and the Basilica of St. Sernin, the largest remaining Romanesque building in Europe and an important stop along the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route.

Throughout the year, millions of Catholics make annual pilgrimages to the City of Lourdes, located on the edge of the Pyrénées. In the small mountain villages and towns, the old folkloric traditions, filled with Spanish influences, are still prevalent.

Have Fun Travelling to the Regions of France!

Crossing these regions off your travel list will give you the chance see everything France has to offer as a cultural and historical destination. There is so much history and culture to learn by visiting the towns, villages and homes of the French people. Now that you know more about these regions and départements, you can pack your bags and plan your travels accordingly.

For students travelling to France, we hope you have a fantastic trip — Bon voyage !

Student Tour Company

30 Tips to Choosing the Best Student Tour Company

Are you taking a student group on a trip to Europe? There’s so many things to consider that it can be confusing at first. Logistics can be a nightmare when it comes to traveling internationally, especially with a group of teenagers. From finding a reasonable cost of tour packages, hunting down the most educational destinations, and preparing students to travel internationally, there’s no shortage of things you need to prepare for.

Whether you’ve received a recommendation from a fellow teacher or you’re just starting from scratch, you need to make sure you do your research. To assist you in answering your questions about student travel companies, we created this guide. Here are 30 tips for finding the best student tour company to Europe.

1) What is included in the starting-at price?

A starting-at price will include some sort of package that includes a number of different offerings such as activities, meals, travel insurance, accommodations and airfare.

2) What isn’t included in the starting-at price?

What will you be paying extra for that isn’t included in the initial starting-at price? This could include optional excursions, drinks with meals or local transportation when you arrive at your destination.

3) Does the program handle flying arrangements?

Flying to Europe with a group of students can be stressful, there’s no doubt about it. When a travel company handles the flying arrangements, you won’t have to worry about the finer details. For example, you don’t have to collect payments from students, you’ll have more flexibility with the itinerary, and support when there’s a delay or flight cancellation.

4) Will your group be met at the airport upon arrival?

With so many things happening after you land, and in a foreign environment nonetheless, it’s easy to get lost or confused. It’s best if your tour company has someone that meets you at the airport to help you find proper transportation and take you wherever it is you’re going.

5) Does the tour company provide a finalized itinerary before departure?

Will the tour company plan out everything beforehand? Having a tour company that plans for all transfers, reservations and guided visits will help you avoid uncertainty when leading a group of teens.

6) Is your itinerary flexible?

Understanding if you can tailor your itinerary to your group’s interests will make everyone’s trip much more enjoyable. If it is flexible, will it cost extra? Plan on budgeting ahead of time for additional excursions or experiences, such as a visit to Versailles when your group is staying in Paris.

7) Where will you stay?

This is very important, especially when traveling with a student group. You need to have some form of oversight to keep track of your students. Make sure that wherever you’re staying is in a safe area for tourists.

8) Will your group be staying in youth hostels?

If a student tour company is offering accommodations at youth hostels, you might want to think twice about signing up. Youth hostels are loaded with noisy coeds that might cause trouble amongst the youngsters in your group.

9) Where will you eat?

If meals aren’t included in your travel package, what will you do to feed you and your group? Are there affordable restaurants at your destination? Research the area you’re visiting to understand prices and availability.

10) Who is your tour guide?

Finding out as much as possible about your tour guide is paramount for a successful student trip to Europe. How many years of experience does he or she have? Are they fluent in the language of the country you’re visiting? Will they stay with the group or have separate accommodations? What services are provided by the tour director?

11) Does the company employ certified tour guides?

This could mean the difference between a great experience and a poor one. A guide that’s certified is much more qualified to talk about the history and culture of your country of destination.

12) Which destinations does the travel company have the most experience with?

You undoubtedly have a few desired destinations in mind. How many years of experience does the travel company have at those locations?

13) Are membership fees applicable?

Does the student tour company charge membership or registration fees? These fees can sneak up on you and quickly suck up extra cash that you’ll want for your trip.

14) What type of support does the tour consultant provide?

If you’re traveling to Europe with students, your tour company should provide support to you and your group. This will keep your mind at ease in case something unfortunate happens.

15) Is there permanent bilingual staff in Europe, 24/7, to support you on your trip?

If you don’t speak a foreign language, make sure that the student tour company is bilingual so you can actually communicate with your support system should an emergency arise.

16) Will your student group be combined with another tour group?

If your group combines with another group, will they be compatible? Two different groups could have opposing opinions on preferred activities when traveling abroad, meaning your students might not see all of the attractions that they want to.

17) Does the program price include fuel surcharges and airport taxes?

Along with hidden fees, fuel surcharges and airport taxes will really cut into your budget, leaving you with less money to explore Europe.

18) Will members in your group be participating in an exchange program?

If you’re participating in a student exchange program, how are the host families qualified? Many times, these families are not paid by the tour company and host an American student out of their desire to learn more about U.S. culture as they teach the young students about their own.

19) How are host families chosen?

Host families normally fill out an application that is sent to the tour company for approval. The tour company then conducts interviews with the potential host families to determine if they are suitable candidates to host an American student. Make sure there’s a given process when searching for a host family.

20) What will students do during their exchange program?

Students that want an immersive experience should try to do an exchange program during the school year so they can visit a European school during their stay. This gives the student a taste of day-to-day life and expands their cultural awareness.

21) Is there a plan in place should a problem arise with the host family?

Should a problem arise, ensure that the tour company has a plan in place to diffuse the issue. Find out whether or not there is a backup plan in place for the potential student that faces a problem.

22) What language skills are necessary when travelling abroad?

Having a good background in the language of the country you’re visiting is helpful, but not a requirement in most cases. Regardless, it’s very helpful if your tour guide is bilingual so he can better guide you.

23) What is the tour company’s cancellation policy?

There are a number of different scenarios in which your trip may be cancelled. A tour company should have policies in place for both a normal cancellation, such as someone changing their mind, and a forced cancellation, such as a terrorist threat. Trips to Europe can be quite pricey, so if something happens, it’s nice knowing that you’re covered from any major losses.

24) How much extra money should students budget for the trip?

It’s recommended that students plan on a minimum of $40 (£37) of spending money per day. This money will go towards meals or snacks, ground transportation, souvenirs and other miscellaneous costs not included in the program price.

25) Can students call home from Europe and can parents contact their children?

Although it detracts from the immersion experience, students should be able to call home if the need arises. All you do is dial 001 before the area code. If a parent needs to contact their child from the United States, they dial 0 – 11 – 33 and the last nine digits of the number.

26) Does the program include medical and trip insurance?

There’s always risk involved when traveling to Europe with students. Finding a program that offers full insurance coverage will help should a medical emergency arise or your trip be interrupted.

27) Does the program offer a payment schedule?

Many families might not have the necessary funds to pay for their child’s trip all at once. That’s where a payment plan comes in handy. This gives the family more flexibility with their finances, while ensuring the child can participate in the trip of a lifetime.

28) Does the student travel program offer a teacher’s grant?

A teacher’s grant can drastically reduce the price the teacher has to pay out-of-pocket. Check with the program about what they offer before you agree to anything.

29) Are there positive testimonials about the tour company on their website or the Internet?

If the student tour is legit, they should feature a number of positive testimonials, from both students and teachers, on their website. But do a little more research on the web to see if any reviews counter those testimonials published by the company.

30) Does the student tour group offer a truly educational experience?

After all, the students are there to learn as much as they can about European culture, history and lifestyle – so, what kind of educational experiences do they provide?

 

While planning a student trip to Europe seems daunting, you don’t want to miss out on the trip of a lifetime and the educational benefits for your young group. Follow these tips when choosing the best student tour company for your needs and all should go smoothly – safe travels!

Bienvenue Ismaïl !

vie-logomailheader_large-2

Meet Ismaïl, VIE’s 2017 Intern from France!

Ismail

TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF…

I am a 22-year-old business student. I was born in Morocco and grew up in a suburb south of Paris.

During the last year of my bachelor’s degree, I had the opportunity to study and live in London for 6 months. It was truly a life-changing experience. I particularly enjoyed sharing an apartment with 7 roommates from all over the world. This experience made me realize how important it is to discover other cultures and languages.

 

atlas

So here I am, starting my 6-month internship at Vistas In Education, living in the United States for the first time and more importantly, taking part in this amazing project aiming at bringing different cultures closer together.

LET’S TALK TRAVEL!

You have spent a big part of your life traveling, what keeps drawing you towards travel?
I enjoy experiencing different ways of life. Traveling enriches my own lifestyle because it allows me to develop new habits, to see the world from a new perspective and to challenge my own way of thinking.

Which region in France is your favorite and why?

C215 - Vitry - Avenue Guy Moquet - Octobre 2010I would definitely say Paris and especially the Parisian suburbs where I grew up. The suburbs have
a very multicultural identity and street art is everywhere. Vitry sur Seine, my home town, is called ‘la capitale du street art’. The municipality offers spots to young artists to express their talent in the streets and to contribute to the beauty of the city they live in. One of them is the internationally renowned stencil artist C215.

C215 – Vitry – Avenue Guy Moquet – Octobre 2010

What is one of your fondest travel memories?stencil3
It was 2 years ago, when I went to a small city in Germany called Karlsruhe. It is not a famous city, people were very simple yet particularly welcoming and therefore made my trip unforgettable.

What area do you consider the world’s “best hidden gem”?
The Atlas Mountains in Morocco for the incredible landscapes.

 

c215

FUN FACTS COUNTDOWN

5 words to describe you?
Curious, foodie, calm, accommodating, ambitious

4 hobbies?
Cinema, photography, traveling, writing

3 obsessions?
YouTube videos, lasagna, chinese collar shirts

2 favorite places?
Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris for the architecture and La Croix Valmer in the south of France for its beautiful beaches.

1 secret?
I am shy… but shhh, it is a secret. 


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Ismaïl with his Host Family upon arriving in Minnesota. He had the double good luck of arriving on a Friday the 13th and the coldest day of the year — bienvenue !

 

 

Halloween: l’histoire d’une fête Celte

Sources: france.aulumni.columbia.edu, allofamille.fr; lefigaro.fr; frenchculture.org; tailsofwonders.com

Halloween, l’histoire d’une fête Celte

C’est une fête celte extrêmement ancienne, qui portait le nom de “Samain”. Elle annonçait le début de l’hiver et représentait le moment où le monde surnaturel et le monde rationnel se rejoignaient. Les êtres fantastiques étaient donc tout proches des hommes.

Elle se déroulait à peu près dans la nuit du 31 octobre au 1er novembre – les Celtes utilisaient un calendrier différent du nôtre et dépendant de la lune. Vers le 9e siècle en Europe, cette fête a pris le nom de “All Hallow’s even”, littéralement : “la veille de tous les saints”. C’est de là que vient le nom “Halloween”.

Cette fête était légèrement différente de la fête d’Halloween que nous connaissons aujourd’hui aux États-Unis. Elle n’était pas aussi macabre, même si elle était liée aux êtres surnaturels.

Elle accordait une grande place aux processions d’enfants, qui portaient au bout d’un bâton des lanternes faites dans des cucurbitacées légères. Lors des tournées d’enfants, les gens qui leur ouvraient leur porte leur faisaient des cadeaux, de crainte de la malédiction des enfants. L’ancêtre du “trick or treat“, en somme..


Photo Credit: Meredith Mullins, oh-i-see.com

Pour les enfants, la fête connaît un certain succès en France, notamment en province. Les enfants continuent à se déguiser et à aller frapper aux portes pour demander des bonbons.

Au lieu de dire “Trick or Treat”, on dirait:

  • Des bonbons ou un sort ! = Candies or a spell
  • bêtises ou friandises = Mischief or sweets

Halloween Vocabulary:

  • La Toussaint – All Saints Day
  • Le trente et un octobre – October 31st
  • Un déguisement – A costume
  • Un cimetière – A cemetery
  • Une citrouille – A pumpkin
  • Les araignées – Spiders
  • Les hiboux – Owls
  • Les corbeaux – Crows
  • Des bonbons – Candies
  • Une sorcière – Witch

Sources: week-people.com; paris-friendly.fr; evous.fr

Halloween au Manoir de Paris : S’il y a bien un lieu de la capitale qui se devait de fêter dignement la fête de l’horreur, c’est le Manoir de Paris, dédié aux légendes parisiennes les plus effrayantes. A partir de la mi-octobre, tout le Manoir de Paris passe en mode Halloween. Il s’agit d’un spectacle inédit, dont le niveau de peur est fortement revu à la hausse ! Nouveaux décors, personnages, effets, scènes, sons… le Manoir est totalement changé pendant la période d’Halloween. Préparez-vous à une expérience effrayante et intense !

Meet Jordi! VIE’s Newest Team Member!

fromagerie-sardieres-haute-maurienne-vanoise    haute-maurienne-vanoise

MEET JORDI — VISTA’S IN EDUCATION’S NEWEST TEAM MEMBER! 

Welcome Jordi, Vistas in Education’s newest Program Coordinator! Jordi joined our team this Fall. After traveling to many places throughout the world – including South Pacific, Europe, Africa and Asia – he is excited to share his knowledge. Jordi is looking forward to helping teachers, students and families throughout the U.S. discover French culture through hosting and séjours d’immersion in France. His love of travel is a perfect complement to VIE’s dedication to French-American exchanges where every traveler has the chance to meet new people, discover something new, and dive into another culture!

Find out what he considers the world’s best “hidden gem,” his favorite place in France and the one secret he’s willing to share…

TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF…la-cote-dazur-ste-maxime
I was born in New Caledonia, did my University studies in France and have lived in the U.S. for the last 10 years. I have close friends and family in Paris, Lyon, Grenoble, Dax, Nantes, Toulon, Biarritz, Clermont-Ferrand, Lille, Brussels. I’ve also been lucky to spend some summer vacations in the French Alps, Brittany, the French Basque Country, the Piedmont region and Rome.

FUN FACTS COUNTDOWN
5 words to describe you? Flexible, resilient, courageous, open-minded, and adventurous!
4 hobbies? Hiking, swimming, photography, cooking
3 obsessions? Cannelés de Bordeaux, strong coffee and exploring Chinese culture
2 favorite places? Minnesota for the nature and creative atmosphere, and France for the people, history and cuisine.
1 secret? I once went to a wedding at a French château with 400 guests at the reception. It felt like we were entering a garden party at Versailles!

la-corse   les-olives

LET’S TALK TRAVEL!
You have spent a big part of your life traveling, what keeps drawing you towards travel?
Every time you travel you learn something new, get better at some aspects, find out more what you like and dislike and you get more relaxed. France has so many different regions, towns and cities to see and things to do, I still have a long list of places to explore.

Which region in France is your favorite and why?
My favorite region in France is Bretagne and Normandie, especially the medieval village of Dinan. My favorite way to travel in France is to visit small towns in the provinces. It gives you the best impression of what France is really like.

What is one of your fondest travel memories?
Some of my fondest travel memories are of the superior seafood restaurants I’ve been to in Western France, such as in Brittany, the Loire Valley and in Basque Country . Bar en croûte de sel (wild sea bass in a crust of salt from the Guérande) is a must!

What area do you consider the world’s “best hidden gem”? 
I would say my home country, the island of New Caledonia. It’s a special collectivity of France located in the South Pacific. It’s perched on one of the world’s largest lagoons, surrounded by the clearest and cleanest water you’ve ever seen.


Vistas in Education: The Perfect Balance of Exploration & Immersion

VIE is a small company of passionate, knowledgeable Francophiles who take a personal interest in the success of your travel program.Creating memorable Travel and Family Stay Programs in France has been the hallmark of VIE since our incorporation in Minnesota in 1976.

Contactez-nous au 800-343-4690 pour discuter vos idées et souhaits pour un séjour en France !

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