An Unexpected Homestay
One of the reasons I chose to study abroad in France was to improve my French-speaking skills via immersion. The most immersive experience possible is living in a homestay, where I would live with a local French family, so I chose that housing option. I figured that I would live with a couple and possibly their kids. I was excited to experience the typical French/Parisian family life. A few months before I left, I filled out a form detailing my housing preferences and living habits and waited to hear back for my homestay assignment. Months later, I found out that I would be living with a single French woman and have an American roommate. While not the typical setup of a homestay, but I was excited nonetheless! My host mom cooked for us five nights a week, and I began to look forward to our dinner conversations. We talked extensively about a range of topics. I asked my host mom about her life in France; she grew up in the countryside and moved to Paris as an adult, and currently runs a business as a yoga instructor. She asked me about life in America and my studies. We often talked about politics. It was interesting to hear an international perspective that we don’t often hear in the U.S. and learn about the French political sphere. Furthermore, I was pleasantly surprised by my French skills. I was able to keep up with a range of conversation topics. Before going to France, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. I had studied French for years but had never been to the country. This experience showed that I did possess the skills to effectively communicate to native speakers (who aren’t my French teachers), which was quite a confidence boost.
As I mentioned, there was another American student with me. She was a part of a different study abroad program, and we usually got to talk in the afternoon about our own experiences in Paris. She had been in Paris longer than I had and told me about her favorite spots and tips on how to get around. It was also helpful to live with someone from a similar background, as we were both experiencing an adventure in a new country.
My homestay arrangement was unexpected but was a great fit for me, and I’m glad I had a homestay experience. If you have the opportunity to choose a homestay as part of your study abroad experience, I encourage you to take it! You will be infinitely more immersed in the culture, you will meet people you wouldn’t have ordinarily met, and it will help in your own personal growth!
Imani Stone is a Biomedical Sciences major in the College of Health Sciences and Technology and studied abroad in London, England and Paris, France in Spring 2020.