Family Friendly French Clubs

Julia A. is currently a senior at SYA France and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Francis W. Parker School in Illinois.

When words fail you, and I assure you they will, actions mean everything. My go-to? Dancing.

The first weekend of arrival at SYA France you have to spend with your host family. Mine took me to their brand new apartment in St. Quay, about an hour and a half drive from Rennes. While arriving I was excited to spend some quality time with the strangers that I had been living with for only a few days. I truly struggled with feeling comfortable talking, and spent most of my time repeating phrases over and over again in my head to make sure I got it right before I spoke out loud. By the time I had the perfect sentence formed, the moment passed and the cycle of awkward silence continued. To my host family, I was a quiet, tame person, so it was frustrating to seem like someone other than I am.

The first afternoon in St. Quay my host father casually plugged in his phone and started playing music at the most convenient of times. I was, as per usual back then, being awkward and only saying “ouais” whenever someone tried to interact with me. Then the music started playing. Without over thinking I grabbed my little host brother and started dancing with him around the kitchen floor, jumping to every beat. Just like that my host parents joined in and it felt like home. We all had big smiles on our faces, bonding with every minute and not a word was spoken. I introduced myself as someone other than the timid American, and from that moment on my relationship with my family began to grow. 

Being with other French people can still be very intimidating, even after being here for what seems like a long time. October 10th I arrived back in St Quay for the second time, but this time I was surrounded by 2 other French families who were staying with us for my host mother’s birthday. I smiled, said enchante and walked up to my room. I remember standing on the balcony, peering over the buildings to catch a glimpse of the fast moving cotton candy clouds. I was overwhelmed and upset about being overwhelmed. At home I would have started conversations, I would have been extroverted, but I couldn't get myself to even try to form my ideas in French. Once the cotton candy clouds dissolved I walked downstairs and got ready for dinner. After a dinner with lots of confusion as to the topics of the conversations, I took a walk on the beach. I listened to the waves high five the sand and gazed at the stars, outlining their figures while pondering the life of an astrologist.

After returning back to the house I sighed and started my homework. I shared a room with three tweens that night, and one of them seemed to have an interest in the American girl and her homework. She playfully grabbed my foot, giggled and peered over the fencing of the top bunk bed to check out what I was doing. I happily returned her energy. Music echoed from downstairs, but I continued to use my homework as an excuse for staying in my comfort zone. After three people had come up to invite me to join in, I decided my work could wait a day and the possibility of memories couldn’t.

I entered the dance club by trotting down the stairs. I grabbed my host mom and twirled her around while I thought of how lucky I am to have a host mom who reminds me of my own. I grabbed the curious girl and danced with her too, pulling out the same moves that I used when I first danced with my little host brother. All of a sudden my hands were on the shoulder of the person in front of me and we were weaving in a conga line around the same kitchen floor that I had just danced on three and a half weeks earlier. Dancing in that conga line to French music inspired me to write, so I could forever capture this moment in time. The time I got out of bed, had a dance party and formed relationships all over again. My heart grinned as I learned the French pop version of line dancing and listened to my parents partying with their friends until 2:30 in the morning. 

  • Campus Reporters
  • SYA France
A New Home

Campus reporter Quinn H. writes about her first impressions of her new home in Viterbo.

Bus 41

Campus reporter Meredith M. writes about her morning routine and commuting to school.