My Unconventional Host Family

Annika J. is currently a junior at SYA France and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Lakeside School in Washington.

Before coming to Rennes, I constantly panicked about meeting and living with my host family. Clearly, my French family would have vast differences from my American family, but I never expected to be placed with or to enjoy my unusual host family situation as much as I do now. I was matched with a host family of one - my host family is composed of one woman whose children, who are now adults, live abroad, so it’s always just me and her. While my host family dynamic is unusual compared to my peers at SYA, I’ve come to appreciate this dynamic and would encourage future SYA students to consider living in more “unconventional” French host family dynamics. 

When I first found out I’d be living with only one woman, about a million concerns flooded my mind. Will it be lonely in the house? Will I have anyone to talk to? What if we don’t get along? What if she’s strict? Although these concerns were completely valid, I soon learned that I had nothing to worry about. My host mother and I immediately chatted up a storm together. Even from my first conversation with her, we discussed personal topics which allowed us to connect on a deeper level. Whether it be politics, school, family, or friends, we always find a good topic of conversation at the dinner table. I also particularly appreciate living with my host mother because she has made a massive impact on my French linguistic development. While I initially found it annoying to be constantly corrected while speaking, I am thankful for my host mom’s willingness to teach me the French language and help me develop as a student. 

I realize that for most students, living with only one woman can sound unappealing (trust me, I was initially apprehensive to have been placed in this setup), but I’d encourage everyone who is interested to try this unconventional host family approach. There are so many benefits to living in a smaller family than I had ever imagined.

First, a smaller family means more freedom. Because I don’t live with any younger children or even other teenagers, there are no predesignated house rules besides the overall SYA rules. Next, I get tons of opportunities to speak French! When there are only two people at the dinner table, it is almost impossible to not have a long conversation. Due to the fact that I’m the only other person in the house, my host mom and I talk to each other constantly in the best way! Lastly, I’ve gained maturity from living with her. My host mom treats me as an adult and an equal. For that, I am thankful as it has allowed me to grow and learn more about myself. 

All host families at SYA are incredible but I am beyond grateful for my unconventional host family dynamic. To future SYA students: please be open to your host family even if they weren’t what you were expecting, you will learn so much from them and will come to love them. I couldn't be happier with my host mom and am glad that I took a risk in living in an unusual host family setup.

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