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Home Stay or Not to Home Stay?

So you’re planning on studying abroad--wonderful. You’re going to love it. Before many of you make your voyage to a foreign land, you will have to choose your housing. As that decision can be very hard, I’d like to make it a little easier.

I’m staying with a French family and I absolutely love it. However, it’s not for everyone. I’m going to tell you why one should choose staying with a French family and why one should not choose to stay with a French family.

The number one reason, I believe, why one should choose to live with a French family is to practice your French. One is given the opportunity to use French outside the classroom. One is able to work on their comprehension skills. And boy do I get to work on my comprehension skills. My mother talks unbelievably fast, which is different then the school atmosphere, where the professors talk very clear and enunciate every word. In a home environment, one is introduced to real life conversational speed.

However, one really only talks to their French parents at dinnertime. Of course there are other random times when one will have a conversation with them but for the most part it’s only at dinnertime.

The second reason one should choose to live with a French family is because you get to eat French cuisine. 5 days out of the week one eats French cuisine. If you’re a picky eater, maybe one should think twice about living in a home stay. Also in Aix, it’s close to the sea and so we eat fish a lot. However, the fish is very fresh and a lot better then in America, so don’t let that shy you away. Besides being introduced to just food, one also is introduced to the French culture. It’s very cool to experience but you might butt heads a couple times or be weirded out about something. But they’re great stories.

 Relaxing in the backyard of my home-stay.

Now I’m going to talk about why one shouldn’t choose a home stay. So in a home stay it will be like leaving with your parents. There won’t be someone breathing down your back wondering what you’re doing all the time. However, there will be rules. For example, most of the time, one can’t use the stove or oven. If you’re a lover of cooking, it will be hard but you can get through it. Shower time will probably be a lot less. In my home stay, I can only shower for five minutes. Man do I miss long showers and baths. Since it’s like living with your parents, you can’t do whatever you want. So your freedom will be taken down a notch but it’s nothing unbearable. There’s really not too many downsides to living with a home stay. All the families who my friends are staying with all seem great so don’t worry too much about getting a mean family.
 Hanging out with the girls at their apartment

However, the main question I think is: How serious are you about learning your French? If your ultimate goal is to conquer the French language, I would highly recommend living with a home stay. However, if you can’t handle rules and not having your own place, there are many other ways to get French practice. There are clubs, language exchange, French friends and many more ways to improve your French. I have friends on both sides that either wished they did a home stay or wished they chose an apartment. I hope this has helped you narrowed down the best option for you.


Brooke Begich is the Fall 2015 CEA MOJO Blogger in Aix-en-Provence, France. She is currently a Junior at Iowa State University.

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