Homestay Check-In

Gwen Lee
March 13, 2016
Study Abroad Paris Blog - Editor's Choice


It’s been a while since I spoke about my homestay because everything has been going well. No news is usually good news (attention mom and dad). I have learned the ropes on how to work my way around the apartment and I have gotten to know my host family better. Everything was great, that is, until the weekend after winter break when I blew out the electricity in the kitchen on a Sunday.

There are so many reasons why this was one of my gravest mistakes yet. Here are the top three:

  1. All of their utilities are in the kitchen, ranging from their laundry machine to their heating system. When the power went out, over 50% of their utilities stopped functioning.

  2. It was a Sunday and Sundays in Paris are days when you might as well sleep in because it seems like everyone else is. Everything is closed. Stores are closed. Electricians have their phones on silent. No one is available to help.

  3. My host family keeps enough food in the fridge to feed all of us for weeks. When the fridge stopped running, it was a matter of time before all the food went bad.

I felt awful. I can’t believe I didn’t see it coming either with the unusually loud buzz of commotion in the kitchen. I had returned from a week and a half of traveling that same afternoon so I was doing all the errands of settling back in at once. I had the laundry machine and the drier going. I was making dinner for myself using two of the stove tops. The dish washer happened to be running as well. The heater and fridge always run. Everything was working at once.  Meanwhile, I was distracted, jet lagged and quite content to be back to normal. I was even more excited knowing that my pasta was almost al dente when the kitchen sounded as if someone turned off the Hershey’s Chocolate factory. All the whirs and hums of electricity winded down to silence. I realized my mistake and immediately wanted to turn back time.

There wasn’t much I could do but stand on the sidelines as my host mom and dad ran to and from the kitchen to the electrical box on the wall in the hall. I simply kept apologizing. While they both knew all of the problems stated above about what a pain this was to have happened, they continued to say, “C’est pas grave.” Not a big deal.

At some point I went up to my room upstairs where I had enough phone service to text my friends and call the IES Abroad person with the emergency cell phone that night. The woman from the French studies program calmed me down and told me that this happened often. She also noted that utilities are insured by the program in case something like this happens. It made me feel better hearing all this. My friend texted that she blew out her host grandma’s electricity before, too. I even googled, “Blew out host family’s electricity,” and what do you know, someone else had it happen to them and they blogged about it. It was great knowing that I wasn’t alone but the fact that it was such an inconvenience to my host family (and I didn’t want them to hate me) kept me nervously at my desk. I googled and texted for a while until I received a text from my host mom saying, “It’s ok now we have found the power.” Halleluyah! One of the neighbors had a thingamabob that fixed everything. Everything went back to normal after that.

Long story short, everything works out in the end. I hope this doesn’t happen to you but if it does, don’t fret! You’ll be fine. My host family doesn’t hate me and I’m back to making some delicious pasta. All is well.


View from my room 



More Blogs From This Author

View All Blogs

Gwen Lee

<p>Salut! Je m&#39;appelle Gwen. I am a sophomore at Babson College and currently about 11% fluent in French. I hope to remedy that while wining and dining in the beautiful city of Paris. I am majoring in Business with a focus in Marketing. Follow along my stories to experience the ups and downs of studying abroad à Paris!</p>

2016 Spring
Home University:
Babson College
Business Administration
Explore Blogs