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Tips For Making Your Home

Hello all! I've got one week left with my host family, and in less than seven days, my family is coming to meet me in France. Though my time studying abroad is almost finished, I've got some tips for settling into your foreign country.

1. Cook A Meal

If you read my last post detailing some of the things I've cooked while here, you probably will have noticed the majority of things I put up were not French meals (though I have cooked my fair share of those as well). In the first couple weeks here, I cooked one of my favourite dishes for my host family - fried rice.

IMG_5334The fried rice I made for my host family and I in January

Since France (and many other countries) treat food and mealtimes as more significant events during the day, cooking a meal from home for your host family is a great way to show them some of your home as you settle into theirs.

2. Play Some Games

Play some games - cards, checkers, whatever. I don't have any host siblings living with me, so there were no video games or anything really for kids/teens to play with other kids/teens in the house, but my host mom showed me Rummikub and we've played that a good number of times.

IMG_5339Playing the European version of Ticket to Ride

I really like playing complicated strategy board games back in the US (though my host mom says they're too complicated for her), so I showed her Ticket to Ride. She had actually played it before because her son who lives in Arkansas also likes board games. We ended up buying the European version and playing it several times as well.

3. Buy a T-Shirt

Or some other article of clothing. Don't go insane and re-do your entire wardrobe or feel super pressured to follow the fashion of all your peers at school (though especially for guys the amount of thought going into outfit choices is definitely much more evident in France than America), but getting a few pieces of clothing you like from France can help you feel less like you stick out. Buying things like clothing with your host family or friends makes it feel more home-y too in way. I pretty much just wear t-shirts all the time everywhere no matter the season, so I got myself two t-shirts from the Galeries Lafayette au centre ville to wear here in France. It also works the other way around for when you return home you'll have some pieces of clothing from your study abroad.

IMG_6260A shirt that I bought while shopping with my host mom

4. Help With The Shopping

This one isn't as fun as the other two, especially if your host mom often forgets something and runs off to go find it right as it's becoming your turn at checkout, but it's good to help out. You also get to pick out things to eat during the week, and find new things to try that look interesting. I've tried lots of different types of French tea cookies now because the breakfast aisle is full of them, and I've tasted many different cheeses.


5. Play a Sport or Instrument or Something

I play the saxophone, so I was able to join an orchestra at a nearby music school. This helped me meet new people and be part of a group. And also gave me something to do in the afternoons on Wednesdays when I have half days. Try to find something that you do at home to continue doing in France. If you can't find anything, maybe try something new or ask some of your school friends what activities they do.

IMG_6121The orchestra setting up for the first concert I played with them

6. Keep Your Room Tidy. But Not Too Tidy

This one might not apply to you if you're one of those people who's super neat all the time. They tell you in orientation that you should always keep your room tidy (or something like that). But if you're usually not a super-neat person, keeping your room super-neat all the time at your host home will make it feel less like home. So go ahead and leave that sock on the floor right next to the laundry basket. Your host family probably won't mind (you are a teenager after all). But don't leave all your clothes on the floor next to the laundry basket (then your host family might mind), and pick it up eventually. Keep tidy, but let your stuff spread out. It helps you feel more at home. Just don't turn your room into an absolute pigsty.


7. Spend time with your extended host family and friends

Going to dinners, walking home with friends, going out for lunch - these are ways to get into your host community. Doing things with friends and family helps you bond and explore more of your area. The two guys I usually hang out with during class walk in the same direction as me to get home, so we usually walk together until we've all split up.

IMG_6778My host mom and I playing ping pong at a nearby park

I've gone biking several times with my host mom and sometimes her friend, Bernadette, and I've gone to lots of French dinner parties and met the kids of friends of my host parents. We've also gone on some day trips to see different parts of the region, Le Tarn et Garonne. Your host family will be excited to show you around! 

So those are my tips for making yourself at home during your time abroad. I hope you found them helpful! We'll now move onto the...

Weekly ReCap

Noteable events from the past week include:

  • The Mother's Day gift I ordered for my host mom arrived: 2 kilos (well, 1800 grams) of Walker's Pure Butter shortbread cookies. My dad brought me some during his visit, and my host mom really liked them when I let her try them, so I decided to get her "some" for Mother's Day.

IMG_7370Me and my host mom, who is holding all 12 boxes of cookies that arrived in the mail for her

  • I had a test in Physique-Chimie, and I kind of messed up one part where we had to draw a diagram. I don't have the grade back yet, but hopefully I did well
  • Myriam from STS came by again to check in on how I was doing before I leave
  • Lots of things are being organized for my return to the US, my family's visit, and our short vacation in Paris
  • I made a paper Boba Fett helmet


Well, that's it for this week. Bye!