My Host Family

​Joe Witzke - Angers, France

Exhausted from the plane ride to France, scrambling through the Paris airport, the train ride to Angers, and finally, the taxi ride; I found myself at the doorstep of my host-family.  Despite my fatigued state, I was unable to control the wave of nervousness and excitement that swept over me.  This combination of emotions acted to jolt my body back to life as if I had just had a double shot of espresso.  Eager to meet the family with whom I would be spending the next four months, I gathered all my courage and rang the bell.

After a minute or two of anxiously waiting, the door slowly crept open.  I was greeted with a warm smile and a welcoming "bonjour."  It was the mother of the household, a pleasant woman with of gift for making a person feel at ease.  She appeared almost as excited as me, as if she too was up all night wondering what type of person she would be sharing her home with.  As she guided me to my room, I remember taking it all in.  Their home was beautiful.  The walls were covered in delightful paintings, and the overall vibe of the home radiated a sense of the past.  It was as if I had somehow been transported back in time to the 18th century.  The spiral staircase led us to the fourth floor, which was the floor where my bedroom was found.  After she had finished showing me around, she recommended that I take a nap.  I remember wondering if my exhaustion was that obvious.  However, at the time, a nap seemed like a must.  Before leaving me to my repose, she kindly invited me to join her and the rest of the family for diner later that evening - to which I graciously accepted.  Had I not been so completely drained, I imagine I would have nervously pondered over what would take place at the dinner table, however, before a single thought could creep into my head, sleep had taken over.

It is a strange feeling to wake up and not know where you are.  I remember waking up later that evening to the smell of something delicious coming from downstairs.  After the initial wave of panic had passed, I began to compose myself.  Piece by piece, my memory slowly returned.  "You are in France," I told myself. "This is your new home."  It all seemed so surreal, as if the entire trip had been a dream, and that perhaps I was still dreaming.  Quickly, I pinched my arm.  That settled it.  The pain was real, thus I must not be dreaming and that delicious smell must also be real.  I, or perhaps my grumbling stomach, decided to go investigate.

Downstairs, the entire family greeted me.  First was David, the father, followed by his three boys: Raphael, Thomas, and Pierre.  The last member of the family I had the pleasure of meeting was, Becky.  She was the family pet - a friendly English setter, who was equally as welcoming as the rest.  After introductions, the meal commenced.  If there is one thing I will never forget about France, it is the food.  Starting out with an "entree" (the equivalent to an appetizer in the U.S.), we enjoyed a tasty bowl of soup.  This was followed by luscious green salad covered in a zesty vinaigrette dressing.  Next came the bread and the cheese.  France is known for their delicious oven baked bread and their vast number of cheeses.  In France, it is said that there is a different type of cheese for every day of the year!  As somewhat of a cheese enthusiast myself, this was music to my ears.  On to the main course, we were treated to the famous French soufflé one hears so much about.  Of course being in France, it was only typical to enjoy a nice glass of red wine with your meal.  This was all followed by a delectable dessert - un gateau au chocolat, which was a fitting finale to, what was, the greatest meal I had ever had.

Needless to say, I had a great host-family.  They were all very kind and welcoming.  During my time with them, I had the opportunity to get to know them well.  I even had the opportunity to help the children with their English, in exchange for them helping me with my French.  The mother invited me to the theater to watch the play that she had directed.  I spent time talking to the father about the outdoors, as we are both camping enthusiasts.  Overall, my time spent with my host-family helped to shape my study abroad experience into something that made a lasting impression on me.                     

Exhausted from the plane ride to France, scrambling through the Paris airport, the train ride to Angers, and finally, the taxi ride; I found myself at the doorstep of my host-family.  Despite my fatigued state, I was unable to control the wave of nervousness and excitement that swept over me.  This combination of emotions acted to jolt my body back to life as if I had just had a double shot of espresso.  Eager to meet the family with whom I would be spending the next four months, I gathered all my courage and rang the bell.

After a minute or two of anxiously waiting, the door slowly crept open.  I was greeted with a warm smile and a welcoming "bonjour."  It was the mother of the household, a pleasant woman with of gift for making a person feel at ease.  She appeared almost as excited as me, as if she too was up all night wondering what type of person she would be sharing her home with.  As she guided me to my room, I remember taking it all in.  Their home was beautiful.  The walls were covered in delightful paintings, and the overall vibe of the home radiated a sense of the past.  It was as if I had somehow been transported back in time to the 18th century.  The spiral staircase led us to the fourth floor, which was the floor where my bedroom was found.  After she had finished showing me around, she recommended that I take a nap.  I remember wondering if my exhaustion was that obvious.  However, at the time, a nap seemed like a must.  Before leaving me to my repose, she kindly invited me to join her and the rest of the family for diner later that evening - to which I graciously accepted.  Had I not been so completely drained, I imagine I would have nervously pondered over what would take place at the dinner table, however, before a single thought could creep into my head, sleep had taken over.

It is a strange feeling to wake up and not know where you are.  I remember waking up later that evening to the smell of something delicious coming from downstairs.  After the initial wave of panic had passed, I began to compose myself.  Piece by piece, my memory slowly returned.  "You are in France," I told myself. "This is your new home."  It all seemed so surreal, as if the entire trip had been a dream, and that perhaps I was still dreaming.  Quickly, I pinched my arm.  That settled it.  The pain was real, thus I must not be dreaming and that delicious smell must also be real.  I, or perhaps my grumbling stomach, decided to go investigate.

Downstairs, the entire family greeted me.  First was David, the father, followed by his three boys: Raphael, Thomas, and Pierre.  The last member of the family I had the pleasure of meeting was, Becky.  She was the family pet - a friendly English setter, who was equally as welcoming as the rest.  After introductions, the meal commenced.  If there is one thing I will never forget about France, it is the food.  Starting out with an "entree" (the equivalent to an appetizer in the U.S.), we enjoyed a tasty bowl of soup.  This was followed by luscious green salad covered in a zesty vinaigrette dressing.  Next came the bread and the cheese.  France is known for their delicious oven baked bread and their vast number of cheeses.  In France, it is said that there is a different type of cheese for every day of the year!  As somewhat of a cheese enthusiast myself, this was music to my ears.  On to the main course, we were treated to the famous French soufflé one hears so much about.  Of course being in France, it was only typical to enjoy a nice glass of red wine with your meal.  This was all followed by a delectable dessert - un gateau au chocolat, which was a fitting finale to, what was, the greatest meal I had ever had.

Needless to say, I had a great host-family.  They were all very kind and welcoming.  During my time with them, I had the opportunity to get to know them well.  I even had the opportunity to help the children with their English, in exchange for them helping me with my French.  The mother invited me to the theater to watch the play that she had directed.  I spent time talking to the father about the outdoors, as we are both camping enthusiasts.  Overall, my time spent with my host-family helped to shape my study abroad experience into something that made a lasting impression on me.                     

 

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