Alex Sykosky (left) hosted French exchange student Alexis Deluzurieu for two weeks (KEIZERTIMES/ Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

The most surprising things about the U.S. for Alexis Deluzurieu, a French exchange student from Annecy, are differences of scale.

Streets are bigger, cars are bigger and the plates are bigger with more food on them.

“It’s all bigger than in France,” Deluzurieu, 15, said. “In France we can’t drive until we’re 18, so having teenagers drive is a big change.”

Deluzurieu arrived stateside two weeks ago with a contingent of about 90 students from his school visiting the U.S. after four years of courses in English. By the time this article hits stands, he’ll be back in Seattle for a two-day stay and then hop a flight back home.

McNary French teacher Marc McAvoy, who spent time in France as a semi-pro basketball player, enlisted Kyle Sykosky’s family to host Deluzurieu and put him to work in class.

“The other day, Alexis was the teacher’s aide assisting the kids in my class with their work,” McAvoy said.

Deluzurieu said the amount of interaction between students and teachers was a big change for him when he arrived.

“In France, the teacher will speak and we write and learn. The students talk a lot more here,” he said.

The Sykoskys arranged trips to OMSI and Multnomah Falls and planned an additional outing to the coast, but the one thing Deluzurieu most anticipated was a trip to an American fast food restaurant. Preferably, something other than McDonald’s, which has locations in France. Sykosky introduced Deluzurieu to his first Three Musketeers bar, which he enjoyed, but he was less enthusiastic about his first sip of root beer.

“Ach, I didn’t like it,” Deluzurieu said. McAvoy said he has yet to meet a European who doesn’t think root beer tastes like medicine.

The other big difference between Oregon and France, Deluzurieu said, is climate.

“It’s a lot colder here than it is at home,” he said.

One of the commonalities he discovered was that he and the students he met at McNary tended to listen to the same music. Discovering common ground is the best way to foster learning on the part of both exchange students and the classes they visit, McAvoy said.

“It’s nice to have a native speaker of the language so they can hear him speak it and it’s not just always me. His accent is perfect and a really nice thing for our students to hear,” he said.