Every morning, I wake up to the radio blasting French rock songs on the local classic station, Nostalgie. I hop out of bed, open the window and pop my head out for a moment. A strong chill pushes past me as I watch the neighborhood spring to life with truck drivers making produce deliveries and students sprinting to the tram station on their way to school. I can hear my host mom scurrying around the apartment as she gets ready for work. She manages a quick “Bonne journée!” before sprinting out the door. When I walk into the kitchen, several slices of bread from a fresh baguette are laid out for me on a plate along with some confiture (jam), half a kiwi, and a glass of juice. I make myself some espresso and take my time with my breakfast as I think about the day ahead – this is life with a host family.
The day the students of the Fall 2010 Strasbourg program were assigned their families, a mix of nerves and excitement filled the SU center. No one truly knew what to expect. Would they greet us with open arms? Would we feel at home immediately? What will be expected of us on a day-to-day basis?
Now that we have all been living life as Strasbourgeois for a month, we have the answers to all our questions. Jonell Yablonsky stated: “I love how my family is so willing to immerse me in their culture. They’re so helpful and [accommodating.]” Elin Wiklund had a similar feeling of welcome. “When she found out it was my birthday,” she says, “she baked me a cake and left me sunflowers in my room for me to find when I came home.”
When it comes to exploring the city, students have a great deal of freedom. Several students remarked that their host families encourage them to go out with friends or travel on the weekends. Devon Beebee explained that as long as she is home during dinner or in time to go for a quick grocery store trip in Germany with her host mom, she can spend her time the way she chooses. After all, our host families really want us to experience as much of our host city (country, even continent) as possible!
When dinnertime rolls around (in my home, that’s typically around eight), I am always eager to find out what my host mom is cooking up. I know one thing is certain – it will be fresh from the market. We sit and chat while we eat and sip Alsacian wine. She tells me about her day at work and I tell her what is going on at school or what trips I have planned. I was surprised to find out how quick I was able to get into a comfortable routine with a woman I have only known for a month. Though I am only here until December, I am happy to call this place my “home” for the time being.