This blog entry was submitted by Katlyn Gant, who studied abroad in Paris, France.
“When I first knew I was going to Paris for a semester abroad, I immediately looked into housing. With my program, they didn’t provide housing or even have a campus to really even provide it. I set out originally looking for apartments to live in by myself than with another person going abroad to Paris that I didn’t even really know prior to coming. It got to be the Saturday before my visa appointment that was that next Monday morning and I needed an address for my visa application. Every apartment had fallen through or had been snatched up so quickly. I had found some places on Airbnb but in my quick haste, I chose the Airbnb that was just a private room. This meant that I would be living with whoever else owned that apartment and I’ll tell you now that I have been so blessed to have chosen this place and this family.
The only thing going I knew going into my living situation were the peoples’ names and address pretty much (along with their amazing reviews on the site). I really liked how I chose where in Paris to live rather than a traditional host family and they randomly assign you a family. I chose the best area of Paris: Le Marais. I can walk to the city’s most known treasures like Notre Dame, the Louvre and Bastille (along with so much more) in under 20 minutes. The family has also been super incredible to me. A reminder that it is only an Airbnb room being rented by the two sweetest humans and that they were not required to feed me or love me like parents. I have been fed so well by them. The wife, Dominique, is an amazing cook and can whip up literally anything with whatever she has on hand. I can attest to having eaten amazing french food as well as other cultures thanks to both Dominique and Jacques. I have been able to attend birthday lunches for their son, daughter and another relative. Even when my luggage arrived 72 hours later than me, they gave me clothes to borrow and shoes more comfortable than my flats. When I first arrived, I was scared I wouldn’t get to go out and experience things because I’d be living with parental figures and that was true my first few days when they worried about me getting lost in the city. I came home after 11 pm my first week and they waited up for me because of worry. Once they realized I had gotten the hang of the city, they loosened the reigns.
Another thing I absolutely love about my living situation is that I get to meet all sorts of people who come and stay in the other room they have available on Airbnb. So far I have been able to meet a young French guy who stayed for a month, an Australian art student, an Algerian gynecologist names Lynda who’s stayed with them 3 times already and brought and her uncle Tonton, as well as an American Russian woman from Denver. Others include a Tunisian woman renting an apartment down the street from Jacques and a girl from Alabama who once stayed in my room for study abroad as well who now lives down the street (thanks to Jacques finding the apartment) doing her Master’s in Paris. I know that if I ever come back to Paris or even want to live here, Jacques and Dominique will help me however they can.
My living situation seemed anything but ideal prior to coming but now that I have been here some time and gotten to know them both, I absolutely adore my host family. Both of their children are grown up and don’t live at home so when they refer to me as their “fille américaine” (American daughter), I really do not mind. Even the language barrier does not bother me because Jacques only speaks some English and Dominique speaks none, they both help me with French and getting around as best they can. If I had the choice, I would not change where I stayed. I think living with people allowed me to be more comfortable living in a new and foreign environment and living alone would have caused me to become homesick. I love “ma Famille française” and I know they love me.”