At Home While Abroad: Living in a Homestay in Nice, France

Maddy Mulder
December 19, 2019
Family Picture With Host Family

Living in a homestay while abroad was the thing I was most looking forward to as well as the thing I was most dreading. I did not really have any idea what to expect and I was worried there would be language or cultural differences that my host family and I would just not be able to overcome. I had heard horror stories from friends who had studied abroad before me about awful homestay experiences and I convinced myself such a fate awaited me in Nice. I was also assigned another roommate from IES and I worried endlessly about not getting along with them. However, long story short, all that worrying was for nothing.
In the beginning, it was a little bit awkward between me and my host family as we got to know each other. However, after the first couple of days, and a few good laughs at the dinner table, I finally relaxed and settled in, before I knew it my homestay really began to feel like home. I can honestly say that my homestay was one of my favorite things about my stay here in Nice, and knowing that I am going to have to leave them to return home in just a few days is making me more upset than I ever would have imagined. Over the course of the semester my host family made me (and my roommate, whom I love very much!) feel right at home; they continuously went out of their way to make sure that I was safe and comfortable.
Because we all live very busy lives, my host family and I mostly interact at dinner, which we eat together five times a week. For the first few nights, the very thought of dinner made me queasy with anxiety; I was always worried about not being able to communicate or making a faux pas, but dinner quickly became my favorite part of the day. Not only does my host mom cook amazing meals and desserts each night, but the entire family makes sure to always include me in the conversation and always takes the time to explain concepts or words I do not know. Because of them, my French skills have truly improved a great deal! Moreover, at dinner, they often share different expressions or habits (or sometimes even TV shows, the French-dubbed version of Malcolm in the Middle is quite popular in my homestay) specific to their culture that I would not have picked up anywhere else.
Living in a homestay did not afford me quite as much independence as living in an apartment would have, but my host family was certainly not restrictive, more so they were simply concerned for my well-being. In fact, they often encouraged me to go out and try new things or suggested different activities to do and places to go. Furthermore, living with a family abroad helped ease my transition since it felt a bit like I was back home; it was nice to have home-cooked meals and people who genuinely cared about and would talk with me.
I can honestly say my French language skills and understanding of the French culture have improved as a result of my living in a homestay abroad. Living with a French family forced me to speak aloud and practice my French skills every night and I quickly became more confident in my skills. As long as you communicate and come in with an open mind and the willingness to laugh at yourself, you are sure to have a great homestay experience and possibly forge a life-long connection as I did.

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Maddy Mulder

<p>Hello! I am a junior at the College of William and Mary studying global studies and data science, but my true loves are language learning and map-making. I enjoy reading and playing soccer, and I also love to bake, though I more resemble a candidate for Nailed It! then an actual baker. I am excited to go to France this fall so that I can practice my French with locals and eat some good food. For my next adventure abroad, I would love to go to China as I have recently begun to study Chinese and fallen in love with the Netflix show Wild China.</p>

Destination:
Term:
2019 Fall
Home university:
College of William & Mary, The
Hometown:
Washington, D.C.
Major:
Global Studies
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