Aero: Claire Darling – France 2014 – Family Life


Aero: Claire Darling – France 2014 – Family Life
Creative Commons Image via The LEAF Project

Aero: Claire Darling – France 2014 – Family Life


Claire Darling

My family was very kind, inviting and fun, I can’t think of a better way to truly experience the French lifestyle. They live on a small cow farm in Erbrée which is outside of Vitrè. In a lot of ways it was like home, even the fresh manure smell. We took a car or bus to town and school. Their house was brightly colored and cozy, not as small as I would have expected but not large either. My host Ophélie’s family consisted of her mother, step-father and her younger brother Wesley who is 15. Her father and step brother live in Vitrè, I did not meet them, but I did meet her aunt who spoke some English. Ophélie’s parents did not speak any English except for short phrases like “hello” and “I love you”. Ophélie knew about as much English as I know French which was comforting. I would do my best to say something in French and she would try to say the English equivalent to confirm understanding. With a little help from dictionary apps on our phones we could have conversations about mostly anything. Her brother is learning English in school but I think he was shy about using it. The family seemed to work well together, Ophélie and her brother would help clean and cook without question.

Each morning there was a breakfast containing various breads and spreads with lots of different options. They made me instant coffee, it seemed like they didn’t drink much coffee. Some days we ate breakfast together and others we were all running around getting ready. Ophélie’s step dad was off working before I went downstairs every morning. After breakfast we caught the bus for school each day. The bus was more like a greyhound bus and the French girls found it funny that we have stereotypical yellow school buses. After school Ophélie had a couple of hours to hang out in Vitré before catching the bus. One day Ophélie, Fanny, Kayli and I went to a sidewalk café after school for coffee which was really nice. It was often hard to believe that people get to do that in their daily life.

ML@FLCC France 2014 Flickr Gallery

ML@FLCC France 2014 Flickr Gallery

When we got home it was usually about 6pm and I would shower. The “shower” was a bath tub with a shower head that you held over yourself, I learned that that is quite common. After that we would watch TV and then have dinner usually by 8 which was very late for me. Her stepdad came inside around this time and we all sat down together. Ophélie’s mom would continue cooking throughout dinner. Her dad often ate different food than the rest of us, one night we had salmon and rice while he had cold beef and vegetables. He also mostly drank beer claiming wine was for women. During dinner there was lots of loud conversation and laughter. Her step-dad was the hardest to understand for me but Ophélie would translate, he mostly liked to joke around. By the time we all got up from the dinner table it was very late and I was exhausted but I loved having dinner together. Ophélie was incredibly sweet to me, her family too, and I really hope to see her again someday.

Learn More: Study abroad with Modern Languages @ FLCC

– Claire Darling

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