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Noël à Rennes!

Danielle P. is currently a senior at SYA France. Danielle comes to SYA from Miller Place High School (NY). Read more of her work throughout the year here.

I had a wonderful winter break this year because it gave me a chance to reflect on how far I've come since being in France, and to have my American family come to visit me! I have been so excited to show my parents and little brother around my city—my school, my favorite spots, and basically just where I spend my everyday life now. It has been bizarre to not be able to really show my parents where I live and what I see every day because I have lived with them all my life, so I could not have been more excited for them to come.

But first, Christmas, or Noël en Français. Our winter break started on the 17th of December, and my real parents weren't arriving in Paris until the morning of the 26th, so I got to experience the build-up to Christmas and the day itself with my French host family. I think that this was the best way to spend winter break, because although it can be sad and a bit disconcerting to not be with your family from home throughout the holiday season, it turned out to be extremely fun and gratifying. I was able to work on my French, and also see how much progress I have made in the language. Having the opportunity to spend Christmas with my host family was amazing, and it is a day I will never forget. My host family got me some extremely thoughtful gifts, and I was so happy that they liked all of theirs from me. Even though the rounds upon rounds of bisous (the two cheek kisses) after all the gift opening was over was a bit tiring, I am extremely grateful to have spent Christmas in France with my host family.

However, my favorite memories from this winter break were perhaps the times when my American family and host family spent time together. I spent a few days in Paris with my parents and little brother before taking the train back to Rennes with them. Upon our arrival in Rennes I received a phone call from my host mother asking if everything went okay and if my parents would like to come over just for some refreshments and to get to know them, as we had already planned a full dinner for a few days later. I was totally unprepared for this interaction, but nonetheless we all walked to my host house in Rennes, and all of a sudden I found myself sitting in the center of the salon and doing my best to be the translator between my two families. It really was a spectacle, especially since my host family consists of six people, there were sometimes multiple conversations happening at once. Later on in the week, when my family came over for dinner at my host family's house, we gave them gifts from America like Harry Potter, Star Wars, and American Eagle apparel, some bottles of wine from Long Island (where I'm from), and some other bits and pieces. Seeing my host siblings faces light up at their gifts, keeping in mind they are almost all in their twenties, was so much fun and made me feel as if I had two Christmases.

My winter vacation was an unforgettable one, and I can't wait to see what 2017 brings!