Hello (and Bonjour!) again. It’s officially been a month since I arrived in France, and I can’t believe how fast time has blown by. Every day has held new experiences that I never would have expected before coming abroad. One of the most impactful experiences that I have had so far is living with my host family in Grenoble.
When I stepped off the plane a month ago, I was completely petrified. I hadn’t been brave enough to reach out to my host family before arriving, so I honestly did not know what to expect. So many questions were running through my head: What is their apartment like? Will they make fun of me if I mess up my French? All of these questions combined with the intense jet lag left me almost wanting to just run back to the US. However, when my host family showed up to meet me in Grenoble that day, I was immediately warmly welcomed by them, and those fears faded away.
My host family then took me back to their apartment, which is located in a very chic and modern building in Grenoble’s Centre-ville. In their apartment, I have my own bedroom and bathroom (which is lovely to not have to share with anyone else). So far, I’ve enjoyed spending some time in my room and decompressing each evening. It’s been a great opportunity to reflect on my day and engage in self-care activities. I particularly enjoy crocheting, watching French TV on my laptop, and reading in my room whenever I get the chance.
In the mornings, I typically start my day by eating breakfast in the apartment’s kitchen before going to class. I always feel like I’m in a cheesy French movie when I’m sitting in my host family’s beautifully decorated kitchen while I sip my coffee and nibble on a bit of baguette. The apartment is located about 4 km from the University of Grenoble, which means I take the tram to and from class (when the French aren’t striking over one thing or another that is). While the tram can sometimes feel a bit inconvenient, I really enjoy living in the Centre-ville. My host family’s apartment is amazingly only a couple minutes walk away from several parks, shops, and restaurants (including a delicious little gelato shop that has ruined my budget).
Usually, after I have returned home from class and decompressed in my room for a bit, I eat dinner with my host family. This has definitely been one of my favorite parts about studying abroad so far, as it has allowed me to try new and authentic french foods, practice my french conversation skills, and get to know my host family a bit better. They definitely operate in a very European manner, meaning we don’t eat until late in the evening, and conversations around the dinner table last a minimum of 1.5 to 2 hours.
While I do truly love living with my host family, it has come with a unique set of challenges. The first one is probably the most obvious: the language barrier. Although I already possess a somewhat advanced level of French proficiency, there have definitely been some miscommunications and unintentional faux pas since I arrived (like the two times I got locked out of the apartment because I couldn’t understand their explanations on how to use the key). The biggest challenge for me personally, however, has been adapting to not having independence in certain areas that I usually do back home. From time to time, I really miss being able to cook whatever I wanted or being able to do my own laundry instead of it always being subject to my host family’s schedule. Also, at the end of the day, I am just a guest living in my host family’s home, so sometimes I struggle with feeling very on edge trying to make sure I don’t mess up the apartment in any way.
Despite these challenges, I honestly wouldn’t trade my living experience in Grenoble for anything. My host family’s support and encouragement have really helped me to flourish in this new foreign environment so far, and I look forward to seeing what’s next in store!