Olivia D. is currently a junior at SYA France and a Campus Storytelller. She comes to SYA from the Peddie School.
As I sit at my desk writing this story, I find it nearly impossible to pick between the hundreds of new memories I’ve made within the past thirty seven days. From being able to watch the pink and purple sunrise every morning on my bus ride to school to the copious amounts of French cuisine I’ve ingested. However, I’ve noticed that connected to nearly two thirds of these positive experiences is my host family.
While preparing for my departure over the summer, I was a bit apprehensive about my host family placement. My mind kept replaying the same ‘what if’ questions: “what if they can’t understand me?”, “what if they don’t like me?”, and any other possible stress-inducing (and highly unlikely) scenarios. It didn’t take long for those worries to dissipate upon my arrival. As soon as I stepped through the thin green gate that surrounded my new house for the next nine months, I was greeted with warm smiles and a welcoming atmosphere. Dinner was the first meal we ate together as a family, and it quickly became the part of my day I looked forward to. The broken and poorly constructed sentences of French that my American brain could barely string together had me apologizing after every phrase, to which I was met with forgiving responses that elicited a smile from my lips because I knew they understood me.
My host sisters and I immediately bonded within my first week of living with them. After dinner we
cleared the table, bringing the wobbling stacks of porcelain and glass to the kitchen. Albane, my host sister who is the same age as me, pulled out her phone to put on music for us as we began to load the dishwasher. Surprised would be an understatement for my reaction when I heard the unmistakable intro to, “Somewhere Only We Know”, by Keane, blasting throughout the room. My gaped mouth at hearing one of my favorite songs instantly turned into excitement; I rushed to grab my own phone as me and Albane hurriedly scrolled through our music apps, searching for songs that matched up. Even an hour after the dishes began their rinse cycle, we remained in the kitchen. We danced and nearly lost our voices singing along to ABBA, Lana Del Rey, Conan Gray, and more. We even thrusted open the window to recreate the iconic Titanic pose as we played, “My Heart Will Go On” (I was met with a horrified stare after telling them that I, in fact, had never seen the movie, “Titanic”). That was probably the first time I actually had fun doing chores. After that night, Albane and I had created playlists for each other to share more music. Music is one of my favorite ways to connect with people, and being able to do it so early and effortlessly with my host sisters set such a positive tone to my outlook on the next year of my life.
Making meaningful relationships was my number one goal coming into this year. I did not expect them to happen as fast as they did, but I could not be more grateful. I still listen to the playlist Albane made for me every morning on my way to school, and I still look forward to returning home after school for our family dinners. I truly love my host family and they’ve made this foreign country feel like a home.
- Campus Reporters
- SYA France