At Nichols, my high school, we recently had a group of students from Le Havre, France, visit for about three weeks. Each French student was paired with a Nichols student who was studying French. The student paired with me was Jules Maitrepierre.

Jules not only went to school here, but he also lived with my family and me for the three weeks. Jules was fun to have around. He was very curious about America and was willing to try anything to experience what life is like here. It was interesting to be around him because he had different opinions on lots of things, so I got to see my life from the viewpoint of someone from another culture.

My family and I made sure Jules got to experience different kinds of American food. Naturally, he had some Buffalo specialties like chicken wings and beef on weck. He also had tried other types of American food, such as Jambalaya, New England lobster rolls with corn on the cob, and Tex-Mex. While he was here, he cooked some specialties from Normandy (the part of France where he lives) for us. My family and I thought they were great.

He also got to see local sights like Niagara Falls. He toured some of the great local architecture and especially liked City Hall. He visited art museums and was amazed by the Albright-Knox. We took him to a Sabres game, and he thought HSBC Arena was exciting.

We took him to Toronto for a weekend. We visited the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Eaton Centre, the Hard Rock Cafe and the Queen Street West area with all its trendy boutiques and cool little restaurants. That was definitely his favorite part of Toronto.

Jules also went to school with me. His English is very good, so he was able to understand almost everything in the classroom. He thought the teachers here were really nice, and he felt that students here could talk to their teachers more than he could at his school in France. He definitely thought the school hours were better here. In France, he goes to school six days a week. His school day in France is 8:30 to 5:30, except for Wednesdays and Saturdays where they have a half day. On full days, they have an hour and a half for lunch, and they can leave school during that time and have lunch at home or wherever they want.

Jules said he really enjoyed his time here. One difference he saw between the two cultures is that most people here don't spend as much time together at meals as they do in France. In France, dinner is an important family event. He also thought the food portions here were much bigger, especially at dinner.

He also enjoyed our music and television shows.

He said he believes the pace of life is faster here. He said that, in France, people were much more relaxed and laid back -- they don't feel like they have to be busy all the time.

My family and I enjoyed having Jules around.


John Tank is a sophomore at Nichols School.