Reneud Renvoye and Yann Simon are exchange students from France who wanted to experience Canada and were walk-ons with the Lethbridge College Kodiaks. They had friends from France who came to College last year. “There are a lot of students from France that want to come to Canada,” said Renvoye.
“We heard news from our friends and we were very excited to come here.”
They both have come to Canada to experience a totally different culture and learn the English language by being around those who speak it as a first language instead of lessons in classrooms. “When we arrived here, we were not so good at English,” said Simon.
Renvoye and Simon met while in the residences and have now become good friends. “When we came here, we wanted to play soccer because we know that we can,” said Renvoye.
They spoke to and asked if they there was any way they could practice and play soccer. That same day at five they met head coach of Kodiaks soccer, Joe Mauro and had their first practice with the team. They went out to three practices and found themselves chosen to join the Kodiaks as walk-ons.
“The experience was very good with the Kodiaks. We met good people and made friends with teammates. Good experience came from speaking English on the football field,” said Simon.
They are both Business students back at the University of Auxerre and have only one year remaining to complete the equivalent of a Bachelors degree in Business. “It’s very good to know English when you’re looking for a good job in France,” said Simon.
Renvoye, who is now 21, took highschool and University in Auxerre and found himself living 40 km’s away from his family from a young age.
Renvoye began playing soccer age the age of four surrounded by a family close to the game. He has one brother, 24, who is a carpenter and a sister, 23, who is assistant manager at a clothes boutique shop.
My family, brother, dad, were all from the same club and my mom was the President. “I played for the club team until I was 12 and moved to Auxerre for school,” says Renvoye.
At the age of 13, Renvoye was invited to play for the Auxerre Junior team, where he played for the junior team for seven years.
Yann Simon and Reneud Renvoye are both from Auxerre, France and wanted to experience Canada. “Everything is different here, the culture and relations,” Renvoye says while pointing out that relationships between boys and girls is much different here. Relationships in France are more formal (monogamous) and trying to adjust to Canadian culture has been a shocking experience for both of them.
“One thing about the cities; everything is closer; you can walk everywhere you need to go,” says Simon, referring to how everything in France is located at the town square. “Even work, you can get to without a car.”
“Here in Canada, you have to have a car to get anywhere. It’s so far away to work,” says Simon.
The hardest part about being overseas and so far away from France, is missing family and friends back home. “It’s tough, but it has made us stronger as men,” said Renvoye.
Their families understood it was for them to experience Canada and they were okay with it. Prior to coming to Lethbridge College, they took a trip for six months to Spain to learn the language and to study. But that wasn’t the same experience. “Here in Canada, we can’t just hop on a plane and be home in two hours like it was in Spain,” said Renvoye.
That experience left both wanting more, since Spain was just another European country with the culture holding many similarities because of how close Spain and France are.
Yann Simon is now 19, but started playing soccer from when he was three years old. “I started as a goalkeeper, Simon jokes. When I was 12, I started playing for a team in Auxeree because I was considered a young player.”
At 16, he knew he wanted to be a fireman so signed up for weekend and evening duties that would fit into his school schedule. After completing his bachelors degree in Business at Auxerre University, Simon will be able to use his education to raise the stature of what ranking he’ll be when it comes time to putting on the firemen’s outfit when he writes an entrance test.
Simons passion has always been driving him to become a fireman and he hopes to be a fire chief in the future.
They both want to come back next year and play for the Kodiaks, but they won’t be coming as exchange students next fall if they do. The one-time scholarship agreement can’t be extended and they would have to find a way to get it done themselves if they are to return.
“We enjoyed playing the season, but we’re sad in a way because it’s over. It’s such a short season. Two months and that’s it,” says Renvoye.
The recent early snowfall just as students were heading home for Thanksgiving was another shocker to them both after being already surprised that they were able to wear just their t-shirts outside three weeks prior.
“When we chose Canada, we knew it was going to be cold,” said Renvoye.
They both hope to experience Canada’s winter-land as winter sets in and the ski hills open for the season. They already have their sights set on the first school trip to Castle Mountain where Revoye will keep his skis to the snow and Simon, his snowboard to the slope as they put Canadian steeps to the test. “We have our winter jackets and we’re ready to go,” said Renvoye.