Where students will live a truly unforgettable experience

When presented with the opportunity to take a transition year, Dublin-born Kate chose to take a leap of faith and sought an experience away from the comforts of her hometown. At the same time, she wanted to stay on track with her academics and make sure she would be ready to start her exam years once she got home.

The International School of Saint-Denis turned out to be the perfect choice. Located in the heart of the French Loire Valley, Saint-Denis is a traditional boarding school for middle and high school students. Above all, he has more than 25 years of experience in teaching French as a foreign language at all levels.

Saint-Denis International School welcomes students from over 30 countries, providing a truly inclusive and international community. Source: International School of Saint-Denis

Decided, Kate packed her bags and left for school. She was put up in a girls’ boarding house where she met her classmates. “I remember my first dinner in the dorms like it was yesterday,” she fondly recalls. “I sat down with six other girls, and we all talked about us and where we were from. The coolest thing is, all the girls I had dinner with that night were some of my best friends here in Saint-Denis.

Saint-Denis boarding schools are made up of a diverse mix of over 350 French and foreign students from over 30 countries. Head of the American International Section, Toby Webb, credits the school’s international community to its bilingual program, which has attracted students and staff from a wide range of countries.

“We all have the opportunity to meet the world through multiple perspectives and cultures,” he shares. “It is completely normal to walk around the playground and hear children speaking in French, English, Spanish, German, Korean, etc. I think it all impacts everyone at the school, giving it a real international flavor.

Once settled in, Kate was swept away by a busy and exciting schedule. She starts every morning to have breakfast in her boarding house before taking the bus to go to campus. There, she meets her classmates and attends six to nine classes of the American section of the French Baccalaureate International Option (OIB), which incorporates additional subjects taught in English into the traditional French Baccalaureate offered by the school.

“The first month just flew by for me,” she shares. “I was placed in Second A from the start. This meant that I only took lessons in French. This scared me at first, because I had come to France with little or no French. I worked hard to complete the course, which was very tiring for me, but I was lucky to have my friends in the dorm to relax with at night.

Saint-Denis International School

There’s never a dull moment at Saint-Denis International School, where students are kept busy with academic classes, extracurricular clubs and activities, and visits to nearby Loches. Source: International School of Saint-Denis

Webb tells students to “expect a lot of activity.” “Saint-Denis is incredibly busy and it’s impossible to keep track of everything that’s going on every day and every week,” he says. “In the classroom there are regular lessons of course, but beyond that there are a host of different clubs and other activities during lunch breaks and after school, as well as visits to other places in the area and far beyond!”

All the while, students are surrounded by the enchanting Loire Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site home to medieval castles, classic clock towers, and picturesque scenery. “The beautiful architecture of the castles is unlike any other French village I’ve been to before,” enthuses Kate. “I have the opportunity to visit these castles and explore the beautiful region of the Loire Valley through the school’s amazing French as a Foreign Language (FLE) program.”

During weekends, international students are placed with host families, all of whom remain connected to the school in one way or another. This allows students to gain a truly immersive French experience, often in unique and eye-opening ways.

Saint-Denis International School

The International School of Saint-Denis is surrounded by a landscape rich in culture, inspiring students to realize their full potential. Source: International School of Saint-Denis

For Kate, it took the form of a small religious concert in her host family’s village. “That day, I felt very tired,” she recalls. “I didn’t have a lot of energy, but I was invited to this concert and I knew it was only polite to go. I’m so glad I went now. I don’t had never heard such beautiful music before.If I was in Dublin I probably would have chosen not to go as I was so tired and would have missed this amazing experience.”

Overall, her experience in Saint-Denis is one Kate will never forget. “I don’t know what my life would be like if I didn’t go to France,” she says. “I’ve only been here three months, but I’ve learned there’s more to life than my life in Dublin. I had so many new experiences that helped me learn who I want to be.

Does that sound exciting to you? Apply now to Saint-Denis or visit the school virtually.

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