by Lauryn Crowe, Greenheart Travel Language Exchange Homestay participant in France
It’s been just over two weeks since I arrived in Lyon, France, which means I’m about halfway through my time here, and I just couldn’t wait any longer to start sharing my experience.
Just a little background to start things off: I’m 28, I’m American, and I love to travel. I found Greenheart Travel’s homestay opportunity while looking for a temporary English teaching gig, as I am TEFL certified, and only have a month to travel this year (I know – “only” a month – stop complaining right?). Anyways, none of my friends could take off for a month and I don’t feel comfortable backpacking solo as a female these days, so a homestay in France seemed like a great option. I speak fluent Spanish, and am eager to learn French – plus I was really looking forward to traveling somewhere where I didn’t speak the language – it’s been a while since I’ve had that kind of challenge.
Anyways, after a rigorous and pretty terrible two days of travel from Tucson, Arizona all the way to Lyon France (I chose the ‘cheapest ticket option’, as opposed to the’ most efficient travel times’ option) I was greeted by my host family, mother Isabelle, father Eric, and daughters Caroline and Maelle. Juliette the oldest daughter goes to college outside of the city and only comes home on some weekends, and Nicolas, the oldest sibling lives in Zurich Switzerland. Anyways, I looked horrible, and was exhausted yet the family was warm and welcoming right from the start. They drove me through the gorgeous countryside all the way into downtown Lyon. They lead me into their urban apartment style house, on the fourth floor of what used to be an old police station. Their house is wonderful – really homey, very welcoming, and I felt really comfortable here almost immediately.
I had my first French meal following a much needed shower, and from that moment on I’ve been in love with the cuisine here. The family cooks all the time, which I love, as it’s one of my favorite hobbies, and I love that I get to experience French cooking, cuisine and food from such an intimate perspective. While I should probably write an entire blog entry on le fromage I’ll just mention here that the much beloved cheese plate makes an appearance after EVERY meal! I’ve fallen for French cheese, and frankly I don’t want to get up. Of course it seems unjust to declare my love of French cheese, without mentioning le pain and le vin that accompanies it so perfectly. Actually one of my favorite French phrases I’ve learned here is “J’ai besoin de fromage pour finir le pain. J’ai besoin de pain pour finir le fromage. Et j’ai besoin de vin pour finir les deux!” (I need [more] cheese to finish the bread. I need [more] bread to finish the cheese. And I need [more] wine to finish them both!).
During my first two weeks the family has made such a point of including me in everything they do – which is a lot! Every day there is a new activity, some get together or something they’ve planned on my behalf, to either show me the city or introduce me to friends and family. I truly feel so welcome, it’s so much more than I had expected.