The home-stay is the best. It’s the best experience to have. It’s almost like a family swap. I love my new mom!!!! And I have a new brother! Okay, so it’s not entirely like a family swap (but it’s close, I guess) and we’re still getting used to each other. It’s a completely new dynamic to learn but I wouldn’t trade it for any other living arrangement here in Paris. Compared to all the other options, there aren’t any cons.
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There are countless reasons why this living arrangement is amazing and better than the other options. Before coming to France, I had to decide to either graduate (I just finished my fourth year of college) or stay in school for another year and spend that year abroad in Paris. The first option would’ve meant that I would’ve had to find my own way to Paris and set up my school arrangements, as well as my living arrangements (somehow find an apartment). None of this is cheap or easy to do. I decided to go through the much easier and well-structured study abroad program my school offered. Of course, that meant I had to continue to be enrolled at Ohio State, but that’s ok. If this year goes well and I get good grades, I will have enough French credits at Ohio State for a degree in French, so this was definitely the best option.
Some of the other students in the ISA program opted to have their own apartments. This is, in my opinion, stupid, only if your goal is to learn French and to immerse yourself in French culture. That’s not gonna happen if you’re in an apartment with your American buddies. These guys decided to live together, but I’m pretty sure they were more concerned with being comfortable (being with Americans) than being immersed in a more authentic French living experience (living with a host family). There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be comfortable, but I didn’t come all the way to Paris to live with Americans. Host Family 1, apartment 0.
Some of the girls decided to live in an apartment as well. I went shopping with them once because I needed some toiletries, but they were grocery shopping because they didn’t have any food. They had to buy and make prepare their own meals. Plus they had some problems at the apartment with the landlord trying to sell the apartment. She invited prospective buyers into the apartment while the girls were in the apartment and sometimes, this happened without notice. Then they had problems with the WiFi and they had to constantly talk to the directors at the ISA office for help. Why would anyone want to deal with this crap? Host Family 2, apartment 0.
I think I got lucky. Martine is amazing and Xavier is pretty cool. He constantly invites me to hang out with him. He always talks to me so he’s my first French friend. He showed me this cool trick with my camera, in which I can take a long exposure (15 seconds) and move the camera around. The pictures are incredible “light shows” and they serve as interesting photos of whatever I shoot. Really cool stuff. I’ve been to a Rock Opera (not that great) and an Afro-beat concert (incredibly good) with Xavier. I have a roommate too. He’s from New Jersey and he’s going to school at the Sorbonne, a well-known French university. He’s pretty cool, and I’ve hung out with him too. The food here is great (I can’t say this enough) and I get fed a lot. Martine washes our clothes too! I say this, because a lot of the other students complain about how their host families may not wash their clothes, or don’t take much interest in them or etc. But for the most part, everyone else likes his or her home-stays. They all agree that I have one of the best ones and they envy me a bit. Host Family 3, apartment 0. Host Family wins.