Living with a host family can definitely be an adjustment, especially as a college student. You go from being completely independent and living off your own schedule, to living in a family-oriented environment again. There was definitely a lot to adjust for me, from changing my eating habits to making a new habit of making my bed every day. However, despite the stark difference from my university life, I would not have had it any other way.
Living with a host family is one of IES Abroad Nantes’s most unique and best assets, and it definitely the best contributor to my French. I found myself looking forward to coming home each day and catching up with my host parents that always made an effort to greet me at the door. I lived with two host parents, two host siblings (18 and 19), and a host cat! One of the highlights of each day was each night at dinner with my host family. It was definitely where I practiced the most French and learned new words, especially from my host sister. Each dinner we would go around the table and share the best part of our day. I loved that dinner with my host family was always a conversation that included everyone, as it can be easy to get lost in a French conversation sometimes.
While my host family was great, there were definitely a lot of aspects of my life with them that were an adjustment. Most of them were culturally related, like meal times. At college, I don’t really follow a meal routine, and instead, just eat when I’m hungry. It’s nice to follow my own schedule and eat when I want, even if that means surviving off of a lot of snacks and the occasional big meal that lasts me a few days. While my host family’s diet was definitely more nourishing than the one I’m used to, it was an adjustment to switch to eating three times a day, and following the routine of the family instead of just my own. Something else that wasn’t in my control anymore was my laundry routine, as my host mom did it for me. While I appreciated not having to worry about it myself, it could be an adjustment when I needed something washed right away and couldn’t just do it myself.
Obviously immersing yourself within a completely new family is going to take some adjustment, but I would say my family made it as easy as possible. By the end of my four months with my host family, it felt so emotional to realize that it was over, as my routine there had already felt so normal and established. Though we were all pretty busy and sometimes only crossed over at dinner, I truly felt like we always made the most of our time, and my time with them is something I will never forget.
Living with a host family can be a great experience, but I think so much of it is up to you, and what you make of it.
If I could give any advice, I would say…
- Start conversations! Never be afraid to ask questions about homework or an assignment, I found that they really enjoy helping! (Bonus points if you have any host siblings, I loved being able to help my host sister with her assignments in English.)
- Don’t be afraid to ask for things you need, your host family wants you to be as comfortable as possible and they’re ready to help or find other resources for you.
- Say yes! When your host family asks you to join them in doing something, try to say yes as much as possible! It’s one of the best ways to bond.
I hope this gave you more perspective on life with a host family! Everyone’s situation is different, and so much is dependent on the type of relationship you’re looking for with them. The experience is honestly up to you!
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Hello! My name is Sophia Barton, and I'm a sophomore at the University of Portland, though I'm originally from Indiana. (Shout Midwest folks!) I'm currently majoring in Political Science and Global Affairs and French, with a Spanish minor. Can you tell that I love languages? I could not be more excited for the opportunity to immerse myself in the Nantes culture, and I'm so excited to take you all along with me. Rendez-vous à Nantes!! :)