She is French through and through. Juliette Fauconnier was born in the centre of France in Tours. She now lives with her family in Albertville in the French Alps. At fifteen years old, Fauconnier has embarked on an adventure that has brought her to Canada and the small rural town of Princeton.
Fauconnier is not the first French explorer to venture to Canada nor will she be the last. “My friend did the exchange to Ottawa,” said soft-spoken Fauconnier. “She liked Canada a lot.” It was her friend’s rave reviews that got Fauconnier thinking about joining OSEF to try a few months in a foreign country. She has been in Princeton for over a month now and used the time well thanks to her Princeton family; Jason, April, Dallas and Destiny Earle.
“Last November, I decided to try an exchange,” Fauconnier added. “In May, I had a meeting with the organization. Then, I was told there was a match and I received a file on the Earle family to look at.” From looking at a file to making the leap of faith, Fauconnier ventured forth along with 170 other fellow French citizens. She arrived in Canada on August 17, 2011, and will be staying until the second week of November. “It is eleven weeks total,” Fauconnier stated.
The Earles has been keeping Fauconnier busy. As a family, the five went river rafting. “It was awesome…so much fun,” Fauconnier said. They have travelled to a B.C. Lions’ game and to Seattle and they have plans to go to the hot springs at Ainsworth not far from Nelson.
“It is really cool being a tourist in our own province,” stated host dad Jason Earle. “We are really enjoying having Juliette and taking her to see the things we already love. It is neat seeing everything through fresh eyes. There are a lot of things we take for granted and this has given us a new perspective on where we live. I love it…absolutely love it. The whole experience has been great and Juliette is nice and helpful. It has been a good experience for all of us, not just Juliette.”
Juliette admitted that everything in Canada is very different. “I love living in the country,” she said of the Earle’s rural home. “I come from a small city of 22,000 and here I have been quading and doing other things we just don’t do in France. It doesn’t matter to Canadians to do a three hour trip, but for us a one hour trip is a long trip.”
Besides the vastness of Canada, Juliette is still getting used to the food and the mannerism of the Canadian people. “People here are very open minded,” stated Fauconnier. “They don’t really complain a lot like the French people do and the food is very different.”
In France, eating has a much higher merit. “We like to take our time and eat a big dinner and eat big dishes at our meals,” said Fauconnier. “In Canada, eating is more about hunger.”
Another difference, Fauconnier noticed between the two countries is the schooling. “School here is much easier compared to France,” she said. “In France, we learn three languages…French, English and Spanish plus all the classes students here are taking. It is different.”
Besides spending a fair amount of time studying back home, Fauconnier, uses her proximity to the Alps to her advantage. She skis and snowboards in the winter and in the summer water skis and rides horseback. “I like having fun,” she admitted. “I have been enjoying experiencing new things. The Earle family are good hosts. I had never watched football before or attended a live concert. People here really get a chance to travel. Canada is nothing like France. There is really nothing to compare it too. People here talk to everybody. In France, people don’t really do that.”
Fauconnier’s impression thus far of Canada has been a good one and she thinks that her parents Alain and Isabelle and her brother Thibault would like to come visit one day. In February, the Earle’s daughter, Destiny is bound for France and the Fauconnier household. Destiny’s French connection is supported by OSEF (Open Source Education Foundation). “OSEF France-Canada has been organizing reciprocal student exchanges in Canada for more than 20 years. Each year, over 500 Canadian students have the chance to experience this unique opportunity,” (from the website).
The Earles are having fun and so is Fauconnier. The experience gives France a taste of Canada and Canada a taste of France. Through the eyes of two families, Canada and France may never be quite the same.