With the host family comes the good and the bad. There are moments when you are having a great time, hanging out, going on adventures but then the language barrier occurs and makes things hard. When I first arrived to my homestay, I figured I was going to have a bad experience and couldn’t imagine how most Experiment Alumni said their favorite part of the program was their time during the homestay. I thought to myself how can I have a good time if I can’t communicate. When I first met my family they spoke to each other in French. I had no idea what they were saying and it was hard. But then they spoke to me in English and asked me questions. It was the small moments that made a big difference. Not all host families speak English but now I know you can’t let that stop you. There are always other ways to communicate and you just have to keep trying. At my homestay my family and I did a lot of things – there was never a day spent inside. One of my favorite moments was when the whole family came over to our house. I was originally upstairs but I figured I should go down and be social. I took my sketchbook and markers with me sat down on the porch next to my host mom. I was keeping to myself and then one by one all the little cousins sat in a circle watching me draw. I ended up drawing a picture of some princesses for them to color. When they were done, they all showed me their coloring. It was adorable! The whole time I didn’t even have to say anything which just proves you don’t have to communicate to have a good time. Overall it doesn’t take a lot to have a good time with your family. Now I definitely agree with all The Experimenters before me and say that the best part of the program was the homestay — Destiny

Experiment in International Living: France blog post #2 is coming at you from Lapalud, France, a small town in the PACA (Provence Alps Côte d’Azur) region with a population no bigger than 5,000, where the cats outnumber the people 2:1. While that’s not entirely true, too many cats to count roam around the street freely. For about a week now, I’ve been at this humble destination as my homestay with Sandie, a native to the town, and her fiancé, Giancarlo, who is an Italian. Their 3 year old daughter named Lylie opposed my presence for the first two days but has since warmed up thoroughly. I have absolutely no complaints about my experience: food is aces every meal (definitely due to my host dad’s Italian heritage), we have a pool out back, and my host mom loves to stay on her feet, despite being 5 months pregnant. She took me water boarding and skiing, to a ropes course, to the Mediterranean Sea and shopping only in the first week. There’s something planned for each day but even without the myriad of fun activities, I’m enjoying life just because I’m in France with great company. The country is beautiful, people are beautiful and life is beautiful. — Audrey

These two weeks have given me a vivid image of what life is really like for my homestay family. My experience, especially in regard to daily activities, has led me to look past not only my expectations, but also my pretensions. Perhaps because I hail from a busy suburb with relatively easy access to a big city, or perhaps because my schedule is always jam-packed with homework, play rehearsal, sports practice, violin lessons, and plans with friends and family, “down time” is foreign to me. In Pierrelatte, I’ve spent my time reading, watching movies, working out, and even writing my own short story. I am grateful that I have witnessed a way of living to which I was unaccustomed. — Grace


“On the lake with homestay families”