The joys of Eurocampus: looking back on our cultural exchange with the German School

The joys of Eurocampus: looking back on our cultural exchange with the German School

This article has been written by the students participating in the Franco-German exchange, along with their teacher, Mr. Schäfer

There’s never a dull moment on the Eurocampus, given the multitude of events organized for us. As German-speaking students in 9th grade at the Shanghai French School, we are particularly fortunate in this regard. After participating in the “Maths sans Frontieres” project and celebrating on January 22nd the Friendship Day between France and Germany, honoring the signing of the Élysée Treaty (1963), we, together with our French-learning counterparts at the Deutsche Schule Shanghai (DSS), engage in the annual Franco-German exchange, a tradition across our two Eurocampuses. Over a total of four days (and four nights), we get the opportunity to experience life at each other’s schools and within our partners’ families. Following a typical school day and throughout a weekend, the aim is to discover and share the daily life of another family, all while communicating in each other’s language.

The geographical proximity of our two schools, DSS and LFS, is exceptional – it’s like living together under one roof, making it easy to foster connections between students from both schools. This proximity makes the Franco-German exchange project incredibly convenient, as the logistical challenges of a more distant trip are simply nonexistent. We fully take advantage of this situation, immersing ourselves completely in the system and daily life of the other school.

I – Fear versus curiosity

When Herr Schäfer – our German teacher – introduced us to this exchange project, we were initially intrigued by this “journey into the unknown,” accompanied by various doubts about whether we would get along. Despite these hesitations, we were also curious to see what surprises the unknown would hold for us – the mysterious, indeed, has an attractive potential. While we were vaguely aware of the existence of the famous Franco-German exchange before, when it was the turn of the previous 9th graders to participate, we had forgotten that this project would one day involve us too…

We, the students from LFS, didn’t know our counterparts from the 9th grade at DSS, and vice versa. Although our respective schedules didn’t allow us to meet, we had already engaged in a pen pal exchange over the past two years, and we briefly worked together on a project titled “Legends,” but it wouldn’t be accurate to say that we knew each other. To ease this situation as the Franco-German exchange approached, both groups created videos with specific themes, allowing the other group to get a better idea of each other’s classmates. Then we all participated in a meeting during a lunch break, which more or less helped us find our partners. To kick off this project, a joint outing took place in the city: all exchange students were released from classes for the day to participate in a Chinese cooking class, divided into teams to prepare “wok” and “dumplings”; it was on this occasion, among other things, that we massaged soy sauce into noodles and rolled dough to make spring rolls – logical! Then, we went bowling – great! Organizing this activity was an excellent idea to break the ice while fostering a sense of belonging to one group according to the motto “together is better”!

II – Experiences et discoveries

Throughout the entire period covered by the Franco-German exchange, we are all thrilled and happy to be part of this little adventure and to experience life at DSS – not only do we get to know classmates from various interesting cultures, as is also the case at LFS, but it’s exciting to see how different the German system is from ours.

When each of us spends a total of two days immersed at DSS, we somewhat feel like “tourists,” discovering the “other” – we cherish these moments because we experience them in a completely relaxed manner, without any pressure, stress, especially since we don’t face any exams. It’s a brief period, indeed, but worry-free – YOLO!

While total immersion in classes at DSS is an excellent experience, it’s sometimes easy (in English or French classes or even in physical education, for example), but often we find ourselves in somewhat difficult situations, such as in political science class, a new subject for us. Fortunately, our classmates help us by translating, and the teachers are understanding. Our DSS counterparts, on the other hand, find themselves in a completely unusual situation at LFS when they’re in Chinese class, a subject not taught as compulsory at the middle school level at DSS. If we’re all so happy to be part of this Franco-German exchange, it’s because it breaks the monotony of our daily lives, and because the atmosphere is very friendly and welcoming! What luck! Yes, we’ve seized a great opportunity to make new friends, try new sports, and learn new vocabulary, which is extremely valuable ;).

III – Evaluation and perspectives

We can only hope that the new friendships formed through this Franco-German exchange will last – it’s up to us now to nurture them, to keep the flame alive. We’ve grown, and we’re more responsible.

Furthermore, we can only recommend to future generations to participate in this Franco-German exchange. Whether we aim to improve our German or French at DSS or LFS, this Franco-German exchange is a perfect stepping stone, providing a practical aspect to the respective languages, all within the same location: the Eurocampus.

While we’re all still beginners (third year of German for us, fourth year for the students learning French at DSS), some fears related to language as a means of communication are justified, certainly, but this exchange project seems to be an excellent way to overcome these fears, which are actually unfounded. Over time and almost imperceptibly, the language proficiency improves! We’re aware of it: learning a language doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s a long-term endeavor. While learning an additional language like French at DSS and German at LFS may seem somewhat unnecessary (since we already speak so many languages), digging deeper, we realize that this learning hides a true treasure – that’s when we grasp the real impact of learning a language: language carries a culture and naturally contributes to understanding individuals from diverse cultures – this enrichment also means expanding our horizons, better understanding the world. When we realize that through language, we can make new friends, the language itself becomes a beloved friend. Indeed, while the Franco-German exchange is primarily a linguistic and cultural adventure, it’s also a social adventure – it’s captivating!



Remarks gathered by all students participating in the Franco-German exchange.