Seeing Bethel through another's eyes

April 1, 2014 | 11 a.m.

French students reflect on their two-week experience in Minnesota

Culture | Michael Urch

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While spending their days touring various Minnesota companies and attractions, five of the 22 French college students stayed with Bethel students on-campus during their two week trip. | Photo for The Clarion by Kristine Schmidt

If any Bethel students had walked into the Eastlund room between 9 and 10 a.m. on March 12, they would have seen a large group of Bethel sweatshirt-clad students getting ready to head back home—to France.

Twenty-two French students spent two weeks in Minnesota during one of the coldest parts of the year. They went to the Mall of America, 3M, a Native American reservation and Five Guys. Many of them had never been to the United States before, and Bethel was part of their first American experience.

“This is the best trip of my life,” said Sylvain Lunven while at Flaherty’s bowling alley with a group of Bethel students.

Lunven was among five French students who spent the two weeks on campus living with students in the dorms. They were able to become good friends with some Bethel students.

These five students also had a thrilling journey to the MOA using public transportation—Bethel van to Rosedale, bus to tram, tram to mall.

They spent more time on the way to the MOA then they were able to spend at the mall.

“We are able to laugh about it afterward,” said Valentin (Vlap) Tanguy. “When we were on the bus, it was not funny at all.”

There is something that people don’t realize about our French visitors: they love basketball. They spent some time in the gym shooting hoops with one another or challenging some Americans to a game. One of the highlights of the trip was the opportunity to go to two Timberwolves games. If they were not at the games, they were in the Loft watching the NBA on TV.

“It was like a dream, to go to an NBA game,” said Romain (Rebz) Robic. “It was incredible.”

Campus culture was also among their experiences. They attended chapel and went to Bethel’s "So You Think You Can Dance." Living in the dorms and at host homes from the community gave them a chance to make American friends. A few of them were even able to experience shake-making in the DC.

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My roommates and I were lucky to be able to host Vlap Tanguy. Every evening, we would play Quarto, a strategy game akin to Connect Four on steroids. At first, I would beat him in every game, but by the end of his trip, I could hardly beat him at all. As a going away present, we gave him a travel-size version of Quarto.

“I will miss all of my roommates. I will miss our little games,” said Vlap. “I think especially I will miss our times in our apartment.”

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On their last night in America, the five students living on campus stayed up until 4 a.m. in the third-floor Heritage lounge. None of them wanted to leave.

“We have to come back when we have the opportunity,” said Julian Nivinou after he reflected on cheap clothing, being able to speak in English, Dr. Pepper and the people.

“I’m glad to go back to France, but I wanted this trip to be longer. It is too short—two weeks here—you cannot see everything,” said Rebz.

Vlap summed up the group’s feelings when he said, “You can always remember where you were and what you’ve seen, but the time that you spent with friends is always the best.”

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