One of the most rewarding experiences of this trip has been to share a dinner between my host family and my parents. My parents have been visiting Paris for the last ten days and finally, after spending much time playing tour guide, I was able to take them home for an experience they will never forget.
To say that I lucked out when it comes to a home stay family, is an understatement. Nichol and her husband are two of the most gracious people I know. On countless occasions she has come to me in the kitchen and offered to help me with any of my French homework. As soon as she found out my family was in town she wanted to set a time to meet them.
As my family and I arrived at Madame and Monsieur’s home, I had no idea what to expect. Certainly not being greeted and rushed into the parlor for champagne and conversation! I had to stop myself from screaming with glee that I was drinking real French champagne in a French home! Having our two families sit in the parlor was an interesting cultural experience, as was the whole dinner.
During conversation, Madame and I both brought out pictures of our families and described the different members of our families. Finally I felt like I was bonding with my host family on a deeper level. I learned about her love for her grandchildren but also how tiring they can be. I learned that she has been hosting students for nearly twenty years and has loved every minute of it. I got a sense of the history of their family and I knew why we got along so well. Both my home stay family and my parents are very family oriented. I come from a big family, and constantly having siblings around me is something I miss. I found out that is why Nichol and her husband began the home stays in the beginning, to bring a sense of family back into their home.
Dinner was above and beyond, and what I enjoyed most was translating between the two families. We finally broke out a French-English dictionary and each passed it around trying to make coherent sentences. Naturally some things were lost in translation, but I’ve found that I learn the language most when I throw myself into a situation where I have to speak French or nothing at all. At this point in the quarter it is sink or swim and I am so lucky that I am able to speak to my French family and have them help me along in the process.