by Lauryn Crowe, Greenheart Travel Language Exchange participant in France
So as I mentioned earlier, my host family is incredibly busy. Between the four of them that I live with and the fifth that visits, there are a multitude of schedules to keep track of. And they have been so generous in including me in every little thing – offering me an invitation to any family oriented event, or planning something specific on my behalf to introduce me to friends or show me around town. Between gymnastics practices, competitions and performances, boxing lessons, co-op meetings, scout-troop meetings and picnics, concerts, piano lessons, dinner plans, parties and outings not to mention homework, cooking, cleaning, work and school – I’m surprised they have time for me at all! And yet they all dedicate so much time to spend with me, I don’t know how they do it!
I’ve been exposed to such a wide variety of activities here, it’s almost been overwhelming. Aside from the day to day activities I mentioned above, the family has found some really interesting goings on around town that I’ve had the privilege of attending as well. One night we went to an Algerian Culture celebration of sorts, which included traditional Algerian cuisine, a museum tour of Algerian artifacts and history, followed by a live concert featuring traditional Algerian instruments and music. Another night the family and I went to what I can only describe as a “horse circus”. We sat in a big-top style tent, watching beautifully adorned trainers and horses alike perform a multitude of tricks and stunts, all accompanied by live drumming and other instruments and music – it was really cool. Another evening I attended a live theater performance with my host sister Caroline. It was a series of short plays performed by theater students from a nearby college of the arts. I was not only impressed with their talent and performance, but with how much I was able to understand as well!
I’ve gotten to do and see countless things that I might consider to be more “traditionally French” as well. Including a wine tasting at a local wine shop, I’ve visited a couple of open street markets around town, I’ve attended at least three different festivals in town, one in particular called La Fete de La Musique. Apparently, all of France participates in this fete on the 21st of June each year, which is celebrating simply what it sounds like – music. Planned acts and individuals on their own accord alike all hit the streets come evening time, and play music for the masses to come enjoy. This year I walked ALL over the city (seriously I think I walked at least 15 miles that day) and I saw everything from DJ’s, to classic big band music, to rock, to pop, to hip hop, to drum circles, to drum lines, to ska, to various people out with their guitars and what have you. Oh and one guy made some contraption around his bike, he rode all over the city with either a stereo system or turn table playing music from a mobile – “dragon-like” decorated bike – that was rad. The streets were flooded with people, all drinking, dancing or partaking in a variety of food carts and stands set up throughout the city (all blasting some music selection as well of course!)
This city has so much to offer, I mean I’ve barely been here three weeks at this point and I’ve seen so much. I can only imagine what it’s like to actually live here!