12/26/2013 10:32:00 AM French student enjoys life in Cannon Falls
by Paul Martin
Stan Magnier came from France in September to study in Cannon Falls High School for a year. His home-stay "Mom," Jeanne Sachs, knew he was getting used to the Minnesota winter when she told him to wrap up warm, only to be told he was warm enough. Sachs and her husband Marshall live on a hobby farm near Urland, and have been teaching him farm skills like cutting wood and driving a skid loader.
Stanislas, to give him his full name, comes from Lannion, a town the size of Northfield, which lies in Brittany, on the west coast of France. He shares his parents' home with three sisters, and keeps in touch by e-mail and Skype. (Texting and phone are too expensive.) Like my own home in the West of England, Brittany is the target for wind-driven Atlantic rainstorms, which often make 37° feel colder than 15° and sunny in Minnesota.
Embracing the winter, he has already visited the North Shore with other exchange students, and is looking forward to going snowmobiling and ice fishing. He will also get some winter warmth in January when he visits Disney World in Florida. He is enjoying American food - favorites are Panda Express, Chipotle, apple juice and, of course, chocolate.
Stan, who is 17, has also been trying his hand at some school sports in Cannon Falls, though his main sport of handball is not played here. Sports are not related to school at home. People have been welcoming at the school, he says, but he is surprised by the ranks of lockers, and by the short school days. His French school day runs from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and does not follow the same schedule every day.
Many less people go to church in France, says Stan. His own background is Catholic, though the family only worships at Christmas and Easter. The churches are often old, and cold. When the Sachs took him to Urland church, he asked first if the church was heated. In France, the old customs are getting lost, he says. Many fewer houses have lights at Christmas, and people used to do more to celebrate Halloween and Christmas than they do now.
Stan has twice visited England for summer school, an experience which spurred his interest to visit the USA. Next summer he returns to France for his senior year. His plans are to study Economics at University, and then, naturally, to find a job which allows him to travel.