One strange part about studying abroad is being removed from my family during times when we would usually celebrate together. Therefore, I was feeling a little sad about celebrating Easter alone especially since we had off of classes the Monday after Easter so many of my friends were traveling that weekend (I couldn’t because of rehearsals for my theater class). So when my host family invited me to spend Easter Sunday with them, I was excited. However, I was also a little nervous because I would be experiencing new traditions and would be around so many new people all at once.
But after the day was over, I was so grateful to have been invited to my host family’s celebration. It reminded me of why I wanted to choose an immersion program with a host family instead of staying by myself or with other students. I say this a lot, but Easter with my host family really was one of my favorite memories in France.
The day started by going to mass. My family gave me the option to choose if I wanted to go to church with them or not. I wanted to go in order to experience what a French Easter service would be like. Easter Sunday was a beautiful sunny day, so we all walked together to the neighborhood church, meeting up with their friends along the way. Once inside, it was hard for me to focus on anything else except for how beautiful the windows and the sculptures were. This local church was bigger than any church I had ever been in. And this wasn’t even a cathedral.
After mass, everyone, including the friends we had picked up along the way, headed back to our house. The kitchen was a frenzy of energy with last-minute preparations of food. My host dad had prepared a beautiful lamb for our meal. We brought everything over to my family’s friend’s house where we would all be eating together. After being greeted by the bise and welcomed into their home, I took in the gorgeous table setting for all 20 of us in the living room and the double doors open to the backyard.
After an intense egg hunt (I started laughing at the sight of my 9-year-old host brother climbing a tree in his Sunday-best searching for eggs), champagne, and conversation, we sat down to our meal. This meal solidified France in my mind as one of the best places for food. The lamb, seasonal vegetables, salad, cheese, and dessert were absolutely delectable. And of course, I can’t forget the bread. We carried a bag of more than a dozen baguettes over to the party, and my host brother still had to make an emergency run to the boulangerie because we ran out.
Easter was really fun and really delicious, but it also made me feel closer to my host family. I was also able to get a glimpse into a special French tradition. These are the kinds of moments that make studying abroad so unique.
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Hi, my name is Eleanor! I am majoring in French and Psychology, and I am so excited to be participating in the Nantes immersion program in order to improve my language skills and immerse myself in French culture. I love to read, cook/bake, and spend time outdoors. I can't wait to share my experience with all of you!