Changing Host Families
Belated Happy New Year everyone! I hope that you had a good holiday season and that your 2023 has gotten off to a good start! This post is later than I had hoped but nonetheless an experience I want to share with everyone.
Prior to the end of year holidays, I let my school director and host family know that I was ready for the transition to a new host family. This is not an unusual request and actually part of the expected Andego experience. Teaching assistants may have more than one host family during their academic year to learn about French culture through multiple family experiences. I was with my original host family for a little over four months in total, which is longer than they had originally agreed to host me. I am very grateful to the family for hosting me for that amount of time and especially for the time right after I arrived. Living with them helped ease the transition of moving to a new country, across the world from my friends and family. I made a lot of memories, especially with my three younger host sisters whom I grew close to soon after my arrival in their family. Living with them was a great introduction to French culture and family life and again I am very grateful to them and for all of the experiences I had living with them.
The first week back from winter holiday break, I had an introduction with my now current host family to get to know them a bit as well as plan a date for the “big move.” I remember that first meeting as a good experience. They were very welcoming and seemed equally as excited as I was to meet. I left their home after the visit with a feeling of warmth and confidence that this next family experience was going to be a good one.
Once the moving date was on the calendar, the packing and preparation began. Ever since I was very young, packing for a trip has always been an exciting experience, that is until I get to the last 10% and lose interest…however this time felt different. It was almost overwhelming to look at my empty suitcases and know that everything that had accumulated in the last four months had to be packed and moved. I did get it all packed up and two weeks after Christmas break, the time to move host families was upon me!
At the time I started this post I had been living with my new host family for about three weeks. Household and family dynamics are different, as my host siblings are a little bit older than my host sisters of my previous family. Along with this, I now have host brothers! We have game days and movie nights, dinners where we sit and just talk for hours and take day trips as a family! One weekend, we wanted to do something altogether but also get out of Angers for the day, so we took a spontaneous day trip to the beach. It was winter cold but a great experience. We had lunch together and then spent a couple of hours walking on the beach and talking; some excellent bonding time.
One day, my host sister and I made dinner for the family while dancing around the kitchen to ABBA after having watched Mamma Mia the week before, and recently my host dad taught me how to shuck oysters! (Oysters are featured in the picture to the right)
Changing host families is not one simple experience but rather a culmination of multiple. You have three changes when changing host families just as with moving, the physical change, emotional transition and adjusting to a new routine and family culture. It takes time to become comfortable again after these changes, but in the end you learn so much more from it! Everything about the move and transition went smoothly and for that I am very grateful. My family has been generous in including me in family activities and weekend adventures, as well as introducing me to new foods and showing me new and beautiful places. I continue to grow closer to my host family, especially my host siblings. We have built our routine all six of us, which I cherish. I feel very at home with them and it has been an incredible experience living there so far.
I will be changing host families again very soon, April 8th and they will be my third and final host family for the year. While I am sad to soon be leaving this family I have grown so close to, I do look forward to the experiences I will have with the next family.
Thank you for reading about my experience changing host families! I hope you found it interesting, and for future Andego participants I hope it gave you a tiny peek into the future. While this was not my longest posting, it was an overdue one. I hope to be writing and posting on my blog and Instagram more as we get into Spring.