Say “Bonjour” to Jeanne!

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Greta Pankratz and Charlotte D'Orsi

Meet Ventura High’s newest multilingual foreign exchange student

Jeanne Florentin is a fresh face not only to Ventura High School, but also in California. She is from Bourgogne, a region in central France. Florentin arrived in Ventura in the end of August in order to spend her junior year here. Having seen her two older brothers go through the experience of studying abroad in high school, she decided to try it for herself seeing as she loves to travel. 

Florentin has experienced a variety of destinations other than the United States, including the Caribbean, the Maldives, and many European countries bordering France. Not only has she covered some ground around the world, but Florentin has also had a well-rounded introduction to some staple US states and cities, such as New York City, Chicago, New Orleans, Florida, Iowa, Texas, and even Joshua Tree National Park. 

Going hand-in-hand with Florentin’s globetrotting nature, she is also quite adventurous and eager to try new things. She stated, “I’m so scared that this year will go by too fast. I do so many things in one day because I’m scared to not enjoy it enough.”

Due to Europe being such a large group of small countries, it isn’t unlikely for European citizens to speak more than one language. Florentin is no exception and can speak French, German, English and Spanish. She explained how she studied German and Spanish and is not as proficient in these languages as she never has the opportunity to use them regularly. 

Florentin explained, “My grandmother is German so she speaks it very well but she never uses it with me.” Nevertheless, Florentin’s multilingualism is quite a unique skill that stands out in the US.

One thing Florentin has noticed in her experience at an American high school is that the school day is much shorter, and therefore easier. In France, school begins at 8 a.m, and ends at 6 p.m. In addition to this, students in France take more than only six or seven classes, and have a different schedule for each day.

Jeanne Florentin (left) with juniors Peyton Redmond (center) and Juana Egusnavarro (right). So far this year, Florentin has attended the Neon Dance and homecoming, she commented, “I like going to school dances because they don’t have any in France.” Photo from: Jeanne Florentin

Florentin is excited to be experiencing life not only in an American public school but also life in Ventura. Florentin stated, “life [in Ventura] is so much better, I don’t want to go back to France.” Though she was unaware that Ventura, CA existed before being assigned to a host family, she enjoys the beach-town atmosphere and commented, “the weather in my region is so bad. It’s rainy and cold and foggy and here it’s sunny all the time. I love that.” 

When asked if she was experiencing any homesickness, Florentin laughed and replied, “not really. I’ve heard that after 2 months people usually get sad but I’m not.” She even went as far as to say that she would like to return to Ventura and reside here later in life.

According to Florentin, life in France for teenagers definitely has some differences. For all the party-goers out there, France is the place to be. It’s easy for teens to get into clubs since the legal drinking age is 16. This is the closest thing that students in France have to school dances. Attending school dances, such as the neon dance and homecoming, were new experiences for Florentin, and likely ones for her to share with her friends back home.

Outside of going to school and spending time at the beach, Florentin is a player on the VHS girls tennis team. She expressed, “It was the best decision I made to join the tennis team because it’s like a family and [the other players] are all really nice people.” 

Junior Olga Quoshli, one of Florentin’s teammates, commented, “Jeanne is an extremely focused player. She fights for every point and has an infectious smile. [She] always motivates me and pushes me to play my best.”

Florentin is not new to tennis as she plays the sport in France and has also been dancing modern jazz for six years, though she has not continued to dance in the US. 

Florentin has been enjoying her stay in Ventura so far and is eager to see what the remainder of her trip has in store for her. While some students may be jealous of her culturally dissimilar upbringing in France, Florentin envies all VHS students and says that, “[We] are very lucky to be here.”