In the student takeover blog below, Becky talks about the wonderful relationship she developed with her host family. For many students, the host family connection was the highlight of their trip.
Je t'aime, Toulouse!
by Becky Arden
Throughout this program, I have met many wonderful people that I will never forget, most of all my host family. I have been blessed to stay with the most amazing family and I am so glad I have met them. During my stay in Toulouse, I stayed with a family of five - two parents and three boys and at first, I was a little apprehensive to be fully honest. I only have one brother at home and it was a big change for me to jump into a much bigger family.
After arriving, however, they warmly welcomed me into their family with big hugs (an American welcome) and many bises (a French welcome). I quickly felt accepted into French culture and my new family. The mom, Agnes, introduced me to some friends, showed me a little bit of Toulouse, and quickly became a second mom. I made fast friends with my littlest brother, Felix, 11, and even though there was a language gap, we quickly bonded over our love of the pool (including cannonballs and mimicking animals) and making jokes (even if he didn’t always understand mine). Oscar, 15, came to many of my CIEE activities and made friends with many of my American friends. He also showed me who the best French artists are (BigFlo et Oli sont le meilleurs chanteurs) and helped show me french culture. Gauthier, 18, helped me translate words I didn’t know and greatly expanded my French vocabulary. He also made sure I felt comfortable and I even had fun playing Mario Cart (and losing very badly). He also made sure I always had something to do - whether it was playing chess (and often placing bets that I would always lose), eating a new cheese (I didn’t always like them), watching the world cup (France versus the United States got very intense) or spending time playing a game as a family. I am so glad I met him. The dad took me to his badminton club every week (I play at my school) and we bonded over our love of nature and sports.
I have so many great memories with my family but two really stand out to me. One was playing chess with Gauthier, the oldest one. We decided to place a bet where if he won, I would eat a big slice of Camembert (his favorite cheese but too stinky for me) but if I won, he had to go in our pool with his clothes on. I evidently lost, seeing as I am horrible at chess, but it was one of the best memories I have here!
Oscar, the middle one, came to a lot of my activities. I’m really glad he did because he got to meet a lot of my friends and see a little bit more of Americans than he sees with just me in my homestay. One day we went to a farm in the outskirts of Toulouse. We had a nice pique-nique with music provided by Oscar, and after, we walked around to see many of the animals. It was awesome to have my host brother and my friends interact and it’s a time I won’t forget!
The program is now at an end and there is no way I can express how much I love my host family and how much I am grateful for them taking me into their home. Today we said our tearful goodbyes and adieus, and I hope to see them again.