My homestay experience was unique to say the least. Before my homestay with ANDEO I had already spent more than a month and a half in France. I had already traveled around southern France with my step-dad, stayed with family friends in the south east of France, and spent a month in Paris while participating in a summer language program. So one would think I knew the language and the country like the back of my hand by then but I was still extremely nervous to meet my host family. I was also not staying with one host family but two during the course of my 3 weeks which made my trip jam packed with traveling and new and exciting people.
Back in April of this last year I had hosted the daughter of the family I was going to stay with in Portland OR (my hometown) but I still had no idea what her family or house was like. Yes I had been conversing with the mom and older sister somewhat, but I remember distinctly having butterflies in my stomach as I walked up their yard to their front door. When I first got there I was welcomed by a barking dog and lots of hugs and greetings. I instantly felt welcome. Since I was staying with their family in August I knew beforehand that we would be taking a train the next day to a tiny town Brittany because August is France’s national traveling month. The next day the two daughters, Audrey and Axelle, and I took a train up to Nantes where we were greeted by the mom, Emmanuelle, and the son Amaury who drove us to their family home in Les Sables d'Olonne.
Communicating on the first day was more difficult than I thought it was going to be. I thought that since I had already spent a month and a half in France I would be comfortable speaking and would be able to understand most of what my host family were saying but that was not the case. However after less than 2 days I could already tell that my language abilities were improving immensely and I felt more and more comfortable speaking as the days went on.
While in Les Sables d'Olonne I got to do amazing things with my host family. We were a 10 minute drive from the beach so I went swimming almost every day and went into town to shop and see the amazing Brittany culture. Getting used to eating different foods was also an adventure but I had an incredible time trying everything and helping Audrey and her family cook. They even taught me some french games and introduced me to their reality tv shows. After a couple days in Les Sables d'Olonne we left to go to Noirmoutier Island where I continued going swimming almost everyday and I was also able to meet some of my host family’s friends who lived in the area. With these family friends we went and caught live shrimps that we cooked and ate that night!
During my two weeks, I bonded so much with Audrey and her family that it was hard to leave them to go on to a new host family but I knew that I had other incredible things waiting for me in my second host family. After saying goodbye to Audrey and her family I took a train to Lorient where I was greeted by Eric and Astrid (the two children of my second host family) who were so welcoming to me. They then invited me to go watch a firework show in Clohars Carnoet where I met their multitude of cousins, aunts, uncles, and other family members. Being around so many people was somewhat overwhelming but I was so happy to meet so many people who were so patient and willing to speak with me in French so that I could continue to learn.
While in Clohars Carnoet I did so many cool things. I was able to ride horses and go to the beach as well as play a game of futbol (soccer for Americans) with the local boys which was hectic to say the least. The older sister, Astrid was moving to Lyon soon for university so we were unable to stay for very long but I made many connections with people that I will never forget.
After a couple days my host family and I took a train back to their house which is 30 minutes south of Paris to prepare for Astrid going away to university. During this time I went into Paris many times with both Eric and Astrid where I was able to meet their friends and go to cool museums like Palais de Tokyo. It was so interesting to see how similar or different french teens are and see how both Astrid and Eric interacted with their friends.
After 3 incredible weeks of coastal adventure and being fully immersed in the French language and culture I can honestly say that it was something I was sad to leave. With just 3 weeks I could really see the change in my language ability and comprehension and I was able to make connections that I will keep for a lifetime. Both of my families were so kind and open to helping me with my french and I was introduced to so many wonderful things that I would’ve never experienced otherwise.
To anyone interested in participating in ANDEO’s wonderful immersion program I highly recommend this experience. Not only do you learn a language more fully and faster than any class but you create friendships that last a lifetime.
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