Moving to a foreign country is an amazing, life-changing experience. It’s an opportunity to meet new people, immerse yourself in a different culture and possibly learn another language. However, before embarking on such an adventure, there are some practical decisions that need to be made. One such decision is choosing where to live.
Will you stay in your own apartment where you can have your own space and privacy? Will you share a flat with other young foreigners who are in a similar position to you? Or will you do what I did and choose to live with a host family? For me, choosing to live with a French family was the best choice I made, and here is why.
Firstly, a family can show you around the city or town and help you settle in, stopping you from feeling lonely and overwhelmed. When you’re in a new environment with people you don’t know who are speaking a language you’re still not fluent in, you might feel lost, tired and homesick – I know I did. However, my host family were wonderful and welcoming; they showed me which buses to take to get to work, cooked dinner for me so we could eat together, and took me with them on trips to the beach, the theatre and even a bullfight. These were great opportunities to experience French culture and build relationships, which in turn helped me feel more comfortable and welcome.
Moreover, living with French people has been brilliant for helping me improve my language skills. Being constantly exposed to authentic French conversation has allowed me to learn new phrases, widen my vocabulary and even improve my accent. My host family are happy to answer my questions and correct me when I say things wrong, which makes me a better and more confident French speaker.
Finally, the experience of living abroad is one that you will remember forever, and perhaps the friendships – like the memories – will also last. Your host family might become your friends for life. You might return for their birthdays, weddings, holidays, and much more. I hope to remain in contact with my host family long after I leave France because when I was away from my friends and loved ones, they welcomed me and made me part of their family.
Would you prefer to live alone, with flatmates or with a host family? Why?