Unlike many people I’ve spoken to, getting into the apartment of my famille d’accueil (host family) was actually super simple. When I got to the gate, there was a delivery man who knew the code, so before I could even get the paper out, he had it open for me. Then I arrived at the building and started to call up when two neighbors came out. They offered to let me in, but I wanted to call up so the family would be expecting me. The whole past three hours were about delaying the inevitable…why stop now, right? I was buzzed up and got into the elevator to go to the 12ième étage!!
For basically the entire plane ride, I had been thinking in my head what the heck I was going to say to these people…will they be nice? will they be hard to communicate with? do I even know French anymore?! Luckily, the stress of having to have a full-on conversation was relieved when I was greeted at the door by Béatrice, my host mother and her youngest daughter Marie-Laurence. Quite simply, they are the most adorable, kind, generous, friendly and hilarious family I could ever have imagined. They immediately showed me all around their apartment, the rooms we’d be staying in and gave me a croissant to eat. After the Starbucks “croissant” I’d had for breakfast in Arlington some 16(ish?) hours earlier, this was much much much more delicious in comparison. I could get used to these kinds of croissants!
We still had a lot of time before my roommate Steph would arrive, so they gave me some time to unpack and rest. But before long, they were offering me another meal!!! C’était géniale!! Steph finally arrived and we went through all the same things, except this time sans Béatrice, since she had an engagement for a few hours. Marie-Laurence was a great hostess for those hours, chatting with us and joking with us and feeding us and helping us not feel so horrible about our terrible French. We also met the family patriarch Louis and the youngest son, Jean-Baptiste before we finally succumbed to jet lag.
After our nap, our host mom took us into the métro (which is across the street in the most literal sense of the phrase) to get passes for the week. Most legal documentation requires photo identification, so first we had to walk to find a photo booth. These are all over in Paris, but they’re not carnival photo booths like we have in the states. You can choose to take silly pictures if you want, but most of the options are for portraits or passport-type photos. I think it’s hilarious to see what we associate with frivolous carnival fun everywhere meant for important government documents…
Later, Marie-Laurence took us on our first trip on the métro to find the BU Center where we have classes. It’s just 4 or 5 stops and a short walk away, which is wonderful! She then walked us to the Champs de Mars, the big park in between the Eiffel Tower and Military School. We stayed and walked around while she went back, to test if we could find the métro and our apartment again! We obviously took the occasion to have a photo shoot with the most well-known monument in all of France, La Tour Eiffel.
We did indeed make it back, slept some more, and then were treated to such a delicious dinner! We had veal roast with caramelized figs, plus baked potatoes, bread, wine, and cheese obviously and strawberries and ice cream for dessert!