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Sophie Hawk '25 (right), with host student and Woody Woodpecker,  on exchange program to Montipellier, France

Sophie Hawk was skeptical. She was hardly interested in participating in a weeks-long exchange in France.

But the French four student ultimately decided to spend a little more than two weeks at Providence Day’s sister school, La Merci in Montpellier, France, this month - and she’s ecstatic she did.

collageof photos of Sophie Hawk '25 on exchange program to Montipellier, France

“I’m very glad I agreed to do it because it was such a cool experience to meet people from another country and immerse yourself in a completely different lifestyle,” Sophie, a junior, says. “It's important to take advantage of it while you can because it is very cool to have seen what it is like to live and attend school in a different country.

“I will definitely remember the things I did and the people I met for a long time.”

Sophie’s exchange trip - another platform Providence Day provides students and families in the global education arena - was a trade-off of sorts. Her family, who has hosted exchange students for many years, hosted a student in August from La Merci Lycée.

“In return for hosting Julia, I was asked whether I would be interested in going to school in France,” Sophie says. “I stayed with her and her family when I went to Montpellier.”

She took classes in biology, physics, philosophy, environmental science, math, and English. While a lot of classes were similar to those at Providence Day, there were definitely some noticeable differences in the content, she says.

“The way the schedule is formatted is very different,” she says. “Classes started between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. and finished from 12:00 p.m. to as late as 6:00 p.m. Outside of school, we went rock climbing, took a Pilates class, went to a handball game, an escape room, visited some nearby cities, an amusement park in Spain, and ate a lot of really good food.”

She adds: “I have been to France with my family before and even passed through Montpellier by train, but this trip was very different as I got to actually see what it is like to live and go to school in France.”

Providence Day, as part of a commitment to fostering intercultural learning, offers students opportunities to attend international conferences, volunteer projects, and student exchanges. The school also is a member of Round Square, an internationally diverse network of 200 schools in 50 countries on six continents.

France is the only exchange at Providence Day that is not Round Square.

Any kind of trip gives students the opportunity to reflect internally, and they share with others when they get home because “we’re not just traveling for ourselves, but traveling for others, too,” says Jessica Williams, the Director of Global Programs at Providence Day.

Sophie already talked to a class at Providence Day about her experience.

“I am not completely sure what I want to do in college,” she says. “I know [now] that I would love to study abroad for a year in France while in college.”