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An Incredible Summer in France

I don't think it really hit me that I was going to France for 6 weeks until I arrived in the airport and realized I was completely lost.
Sure, I knew that I was going to France. I talked about it with my parents. I was so excited, but it still didn't feel real.
Then I found myself standing in front of this attendant sitting at the desk, trying to figure out how to ask what stop to get off at to find my luggage. I went to look up the word for baggage carousel - and remembered that I didn't have internet, and I had forgotten my handheld dictionary at home. Panic set in quickly after that.

Luckily, the attendant spoke enough English to help me. But this made me realize that this experience is real, and it was going to be unlike anything I had ever done before.
When I arrived at my host family's house, it was awkward, which is what I expected. I felt so strange interacting with my host family at first, but they were extremely kind to me. As soon as I arrived, we left for Normandy.
The first few days felt like being thrown into the deep end of a swimming pool - I was struggling to stay afloat. Speaking French was difficult, but I kept going, and tried to bond with my host siblings regardless. I stumbled through simple sentences at the beginning, and was often completely lost in a conversation. But we made it work. We played lots of Mario Kart and board games, along with the occasional charades when I didn't know the word for something.
I learned more about French culture and history daily. During my time in France we visited lots of places such as Omaha Beach, Dunkirk, the Mont-St. Michel, Paris, and we even went to Belgium! Even when we weren't sightseeing I learned about lots of little things that interested me, like paying to use the restroom, the strikes, and why everyone in my host family always had to clear their plate.

My host family was incredibly kind to me. My host parents, Laurent and Veronique, talked to me a lot, explained lots of French customs/culture, and brought us to see so many places. My host sister, Clara, always made sure to explain things in simpler terms so I could understand. Alex, the history buff, always had a fun fact about a city or place. Sam and I enjoyed playing video games together. We all laughed together, joked together, and had tons of fun.
I feel like during my trip I learned so much, like how to connect with the people around me and communicating even when I can’t say what I want to. Simple gestures can go a long way. Once, Clara had been talking with her brothers and stormed upstairs crying. I didn’t really know what to say to her, but I gave her a hug and told her that brothers can be difficult. Her gratitude was apparent, even though I didn’t have the words to comfort her.
Before I knew it, it was time for me to return home. August 17th, Clara and Veronique waited with me at the train station. For the past week, Clara and I had been joking about how sad it would be when I left. Sitting in the benches at the train station, she started crying on my shoulder, which made me cry. I didn’t want to leave what was now my second family. They had changed my life, with their constant kindness and consideration. I don’t think I’ll ever forget my host family or the amazing memories we made together.

For more information about our immersion programs in France check out these pages!
Group trip to France
Summer in France 
Summer in Tours
Semester or year in France


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