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Family Spending Semester Abroad

Santa Cruz, CA
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Family Spending Semester Abroad

We are hoping to spend 6 months abroad with our teens and baby in France. We chose Lyon because of its' size and location as well as its' reputation for great food and entertainment. It also has schools our girls could attend. What neighborhoods could you advise? Thoughts on our idea are welcome. Thanks.

Santa Cruz, CA
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72 posts
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11. Re: Family Spending Semester Abroad

O my goodness. Thank you all for responding. I just now realized there were so many responses to y question. In the past I have gotten a notification in my email when someone responds to me on Trip Advisor, but this time only two notifications came through. I just thought nobody was able to help.

I was SO WRONG. You are all GREAT.

So- here's answers to your questions and an update:

We are looking at doing this trip starting in January 2014 or 2015 (This is dependent upon my oldest daughters thoughts to being abroad part of her senior year in high school. I like to plan ahead ).

All four of us are studying French, my eldest is very good and the rest of us are fair to middling, though we work with a tutor and practice on each other. My kids are currently 15, 13 and 22 months. The baby doesn't know any language. Yet.

We are looking at an international school either in Lyon or the suburbs of Paris (our tutor recommended that).. We just happen to like Lyon as viewed through tour books and the web.. The kids are game for a French school, many of their contemporaries have done just that through student exchange programs - we just want to go as a family. Plus it would be great to have the baby in maternelle as well if possible as she is just learning English (and well, I speak and read to her in French as much as possible). But we are looking at both. This summer we will spend a week in Lyon checking things out, visit schools and such, so really, I guess I am looking at advice to help us plan this adventure. Visas are problematic (I am working on getting my Portuguese citizenship as that will help- not to mention my dad would be very proud.) but we are working on student visa solutions or re-entry or something.

Thank you for all the help I've received already. Again, I apologize for not being more on top of this, your ideas and suggestions are so helpful. Please do not worry about my kids being stressed about a semester abroad, they love to travel. They chose France and they have been working very hard at their language studies. Their current school is very "college prep" and they have great study skills so I am certain they will survive wherever we land.

Please let me know if there is a neighborhood we should center ourselves in THIS summer as we do our research. Thanks all.

Luanne

Tampa, Florida
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12. Re: Family Spending Semester Abroad

Assuming, or letting your children assume, that "traveling" has any similarity to living there day-in, day-out, is a significantly grievous mistake.

This is a major upheaval for everyone, on a myriad of levels, and 6 months isn't even enough to get over the shell-shock of being immersed in another language and another culture, let alone begin to feel settled or comfortable..and then zap -- doing it all again. (and re-entry into the home culture is a consideration as well)

This isn't some fun lark for a few months -- this is a major undertaking that has to potential to change your children forever...not necessarily in a positive way.

Edited: 3:08 am, March 14, 2013
Bedoin, France
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13. Re: Family Spending Semester Abroad

Have you given any thought to what this would do to your older children's GPA.

Been there, done that (but for a lot longer time) and it is something you should give serious thought to.

Lyon, France
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14. Re: Family Spending Semester Abroad

As 2 of our 3 kids had actually their middle school and high school at Lyon international school ( called "Cité Scolaire Internationale"), I would be happy to give you a few information prior your summer trip to Lyon. They were not in international sections though, as French non bilingual kids can also attend CSI:

http://www.csilyon.fr/?lang=en

Your 2 teens will have to pass an exam to be accepted, and the places are limited as everyone already mentionned. The main point to check is do they accept an inscription for a few months only and not a full year, which will be for 2013-2014 : September 3rd of 2013 to July 4th of 2014?

I would say that the neighborhood you should center yourself in this summer should be as central as possible, ie the Presqu'île (the city center in between the 2 rivers, let's say between Cordeliers and Perrache); From there you'll have easy access to everywhere for your research, plus you'll be able to discover and enjoy the city.

New York City, New...
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15. Re: Family Spending Semester Abroad

I have to agree with Sunshine and Toutou...especially considering that your plans are to arrive in the middle of the school year. Even in an international school, the curriculum will likely not be the same. Many have most of the coursework in French with only one or two courses in the "international" language. Keep in mind that there are enormous differences in the grading system (which do not translate nicely, by the way), not to mention the base of knowledge that French students have. It is one thing to have a handle on the French language and entirely another to be expected to suddenly perform at the same level academically as native speakers. (Think reading novels, analyzing text, taking exams, etc. Even math courses require written explanations on tests rather than just solutions to the problems) There are also different sections to choose from--some less rigorous than others. Even if you were to choose one of the "easier" sections, you may find that the course offerings might leave gaps in an American transcript. Younger children would have a much easier time. For teens, however, strongly consider the implications and the possibility of having to make up the semester you spend abroad.

Santa Cruz, CA
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16. Re: Family Spending Semester Abroad

Again, thanks to all who have weighed in and advised us on our adventure.

Only-Lyon, I so appreciate your recommending a neighborhood and a school. Many others have sent links regarding this school and we look forward to meeting with them. Simone and Texas Tripsyour advice is invaluable, thanks for the ideas that have launched a thousand more ideas. Very helpful. I hope you're up for more commentary if needed. Toutou and Sunshine and Travel pro, your warnings are not going unheeded. We as a family really do consider 6 months abroad as a trip, albeit a rather lengthy one, but still a trip as opposed to a permanent move. Our girls' school is very supportive and has been helping us with finding the right situation for them to study abroad. We take none of this lightly.

Due to all of your input we are seriously looking at an (American) semester or (French) trimesters abroad with a combination of home schooling, online schooling (from their American school) and enrolling the girls in an intensive language program (great suggestion Simone). I am working through the process of obtaining EU citizenship, student visas and other legal questions. And we are off to Lyon this summer (thanks ALL of you who sent info on the city, the schools, links, etc) to see how we fit in to the many parameters of living abroad in this beautiful city. Your time on these issues has been greatly appreciated and I hope that I'll be able to contribute in some small way to others who have these kinds of questions. I'll certainly keep you posted – if you're interested. Merci!!

Tampa, Florida
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17. Re: Family Spending Semester Abroad

You're not going to obtain EU citizenship for a 6-month trip, unless your parents were born in an EU country that grants citizenship to adult children (and there aren't many of those)

It isn't travel when you're tossing yourself into day-to-day life.

Do take a look at what you just described for your kids -- a full day at French school (potentially 8 or 9 am until at least 4, possibly 5 pm 5 days a week, one of which is likely to be Saturday morning) then intensive French class, then online schooling, then homeschooling, and somewhere in there they're supposed to do homework for the French school (in French....)

And oh yes, they're supposed to make lifelong friends and enjoy themselves. You're setting your children up for failure.

Edited: 2:42 am, March 19, 2013
Texas
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18. Re: Family Spending Semester Abroad

I totally disagree with the "it's no a good idea" comments here. We have been away twice with our kids, we are taking them to Sweden next spring (work for us). They have had amazing experiences, they look back on them very fondly, they are excited about Sweden. They were great family adventures. Their (very) academic schools here are absolutely all for it - opportunities not to be missed - and very accommodating. At their schools, it isn't unusual at all for children (lots of them teenagers) to go with their parents to many parts of the world for a semester or a year. Of course there are challenges, but challenges aren't bad:-) Your preparations sound good in terms of learning French and the preliminary visits. We wouldn't have missed these experiences for the world and we feel very fortunate to have had the opportunities.

Tampa, Florida
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19. Re: Family Spending Semester Abroad

Texastrips, you probably should know that the ladies posting that it's not a good idea are all American moms who have/have had kids in the French school system. We are all very familiar with the situation and have seen the effects upon our children.

I have no doubt that your experiences in Sweden will be excellent -- or that your past experiences were good.

But you also can't dismiss us out of hand as not knowing what we're talking about.

Santa Cruz, CA
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20. Re: Family Spending Semester Abroad

Hey All,

Thanks for the input again. Of course I wouldn't have our kids do French school, language school, home school, etc. all at the sane time. I was making the point that our American school is willing to work with us to make sure the kids keep up with their requirements as well as have an lifetime experience. If you are reading this lengthy forum because you too might take your kids abroad for a semester - you should probably start with your current school for advice. You cant imagine how helpful and supportive our college counselor was/is. And my kids attend a small, very type A charter/public school that requires 5 APs to graduate. So I imagine these larger public or intense private schools would be even more supportive. And I have to share with you that in the beginning , my kids wanted to go to school in a foreign country (as opposed to just living there over the summer) in order to be in an environment with other kids. Often when we travel they have only each other to entertain themselves and they really enjoy meeting new kids . (an aside - the exception to this was Morocco where the Moroccan kids were extremely friendly, out going and willing to communicate through French, Arabic (no, my kids don't speak Arabic) and by drawing pictures. Great place to take your kids.