Foreign exchange student from France experiences the all-American dream

Rachel Brauer, Staff Writer

IMG_9977By Staff Writer: Rachel Brauer

The first day of school is always nerve-wracking, even in a building that’s familiar. There’s always something to worry about: what to wear, who to eat lunch with, and unfamiliar classes with different teachers and peers. Now imagine doing it all in a country that’s new, too.

Senior Charlotte Reguillon is a foreign exchange student from Lyon, France, who currently is taking on the challenge of the all-American high school experience at HHS.

What sparked Reguillon’s interest in the U.S. were the multiple visits with her family.  Together, they have toured Manhattan, New York, and watched the infamous ball drop in Times Square on New Year’s Eve; to Arizona and the vast desert sky to visit the Grand Canyon; and the California West Coast.

With each trip, Reguillon’s desire to truly experience the American life grew deeper and more intense. Her older sister, Leone, took the starting lead and spent the 2012-13 school year as a foreign exchange student in Rochester, Minnesota, through WEP (World Education Program). In the summer of 2013, Reguillon spent three weeks in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with her host family, the Hands.

“They were really nice. I learned a lot from them,” says Reguillon regarding her Southern host family.

Currently, she is living with her new host family, the Smileys. With this family, she has acquired a host sister, sophomore Carlie, and a host brother, middle-schooler Evan. When asking Carlie about how she feels about having Reguillon as a host sister, she responded with much adoration and love.

“She helps me with my French homework, and it’s nice having someone to talk to,” says Carlie.

Reguillon really enjoys their hospitality and is eager to learn as much as she can from them. She especially relishes the rural setting of her new home, complete with goats and chickens. Her host mom, Michele, speaks Reguillon’s native language very well. Reguillon tries to avoid communicating to her through French as best as she can.

“I’m here to learn English,” says Reguillon.

She is half-Italian and half-French. Reguillon is familiar with many different cultures, with fluency in French, English (six years), and Italian (four years). She loves to travel and has visited Italy, Turkey, Africa, Spain, and England.

When Reguillon first arrived in America, she noticed a lot of cultural differences between here and France. Such as in France, it is custom to greet others with a kiss on both cheeks. So when her current host family met her at the airport and hugged her instead, she found it very strange. Also in France, only the boys carry around backpacks while the girls carry around purses. There is also a huge difference in schools. They’re not any lockers in France, homecoming dances, school busses, or football games. The only ‘football’ is soccer. One also does not get the freedom of picking out their classes; their school curriculum is planned out.

Reguillon is graduating with HHS’s class of 2014, in which she will be able to walk and receive a blank diploma. When she goes back to France, she will have to repeat her whole senior year. Reguillon wishes to attend college in America and go to SCAD (Savannah College of Arts and Designs) for architecture. When asked why, Reguillon responded with a simple answer.

“I just love the United States. I don’t want to go back to France; I just want to bring my friends over here with me,” says Reguillon.