The Girl From Across the World

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Justine Galichon

French Exchange student Justine Galichon

Justine Galichon has come a long way from Bordeaux, France to spend her senior year here at North Penn High School. Even though she has already been to the United States before, she is full of excitement and cannot wait to get the full American high school experience. 

As part of the International Friendship Club, few selected students have the privilege of receiving their education across the globe. Students from North Penn can spend their junior or senior year in countries such as France or Germany, and French and German students may come here. Currently there are students from these countries right here at North Penn. 

“I really love and enjoy every moment since I have arrived and the International Friendship Club program is incredible. It’s an opportunity I cannot let go” Gilchon highlighted. 

“The student exchange program allows you to see the world with another point of view,” Galichon said, feeling as though being an exchange student has expanded her horizons.

The application process is strict and lengthy. Students are selected from the best language arts classes and may choose to apply from there. They must consult their teacher as well as headmaster/mistress as well as write a letter on how they are a good fit for the program. 

After her application process, Galichon made her way to the U.S. and made herself at home at North Penn. Her excitement of being here is prevalent in just her words and how she describes going to school. 

“The diversity of origins and ethnicity here is crazy and it’s great and I love it,” Gilchon described.

The difference between France and America via their education is obvious but Justine notes that the teacher-student relationship is much different compared to France. She notes how much personal said relationship is and how much more helpful that is. 

“The teachers and even the way of teaching is extremely different. It’s a ‘we respect you and you respect me’ and it goes two ways. While in France, it’s more we have to respect them and it is a pretty professional relationship. So, I really like the fact that you can talk to your teacher and I love it,” Gilchon shared. 

I have only been here for six months but I feel like this will be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”

— French Exchange Student Justine Galichon

She encourages other students to get involved in the foreign exchange program as well and feels that if they get the chance, they should absolutely take it. 

“I think that this is very rewarding and I totally encourage people to do this,” Gilchon revealed.

From her description, it seems like an amazing experience to go through. However, traveling on a plane and going through an airport was more complex with the pandemic. Galichon had already been to the U.S. before, and described how the customs was crowded and full of people, but now with COVID-19, that number has decreased greatly. The people in airports are few, and the number of planes traveling are even fewer. She described being at the border as “being alone and just me.”

“I had to take three planes, when before the pandemic, I could have taken just one.” Gilchon explained. 

France has handled COVID-19 well and are doing their best. Justine noted how France is much stricter on traveling outside. Vaccine cards or a negative COVID-19 test from no more than 3 days prior must be presented if entering anywhere.

Nevertheless, she is so incredibly grateful to be here and is beyond excited to see what lies ahead at this school. 

“I have only been here for six months but I feel like this will be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.” Gilchon exclaimed.