Magazine topic: 
Life around the world

Living with a host family

by : 
RebeccaM

Imagine diving into deep water, having being taught the theory of how to swim, but never having actually swum in real life before. That’s exactly how I felt when I arrived in France and was instantly absorbed into the life of another family – a French family. I’ve been studying the French language and culture for a number of years now and I feel almost as confident about my grasp of French grammar as I do about my understanding of French stereotypes. But even with my extensive knowledge of cheese and a partiality to wine, I was not prepared for the reality of day-to-day life in a country that is only across the English Channel. 

Upon first arriving at the home of my host, I was greeted – or should I say surrounded – by four interested and outgoing adults, whose extroversion was rather a shock to my British reserve. I must have looked slightly panicked by the commotion, as they then made several comments to the effect, “Doesn’t she look anxious?” Needless to say, my anxieties were not put to rest.

My reserve continued to be overpowered by the French boldness. It particular, it manifested itself as an inability to decline invitations – whether they be invitations to go walking in the Alps, or to sign up to local drama classes!

As my stay unfolded, I became increasingly aware of the differences between French and English families, and the cultures in general. In particular, the French seem a lot fussier. Sometimes the fuss is a blessing: my host insisted that I was well looked after and very well fed. On other occasions, however, I just could not comprehend the need for fuss. Minor setbacks were treated as major crises; there seemed to be no room for a laid-back TV dinner; and as for the French bureaucracy …

By being thrown into the middle of a French family, I had the opportunity to discover their typical daily life. Moreover, I was swept away by it! Without such an intense first-hand experience, I don’t think I would have engaged nearly as much in the French culture. It is certain that no classroom preparation could have informed me of the French peculiarities quite as well.

Discussion

Have you ever stayed with a host family in another country? If not, would you like to? 

Comments

bojana13's picture
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bojana13 8 October, 2015 - 16:18

No,I haven t been and I really don t know would I like it.We can t know where will the future take as.

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RebeccaM's picture
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RebeccaM 12 October, 2015 - 19:15

It is quite scary at first! If you ever get the opportunity, I would recommend taking it. It's great life experience. 

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iva10's picture
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iva10 30 September, 2015 - 20:12

Well no.But if i would i would like to go in London.I've trying to improve my emglish skills and akcent.I always wanted to go there so i could visit Big Ben ,The london eye ,river Times.By the way can anyone tell me why it's called Big Ben?

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RebeccaM's picture
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RebeccaM 12 October, 2015 - 19:13

London is a great place to visit! It's a vibrant, culturally rich city with lots to see and do. I don't think the origin of the name 'Big Ben' is known for certain! 

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Ken's picture
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Ken 13 October, 2015 - 09:35

Hi Rebecca,
I heard two theories about the origin of the name 'Big Ben'. Which do you think is more plausible?

1: It was named after Sir Benjamin Hall, the first commissioner of works, a large man who was known affectionately in the house as "Big Ben"

2: it was named after a heavyweight boxing champion at that time, Benjamin Caunt. Also known as "Big Ben", this nickname was commonly bestowed in society to anything that was the heaviest in its class.

Well, I think 2 sounds more friendly to people…. !

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