Where in the World am I? I'm in Craponne, France!
Craponne is probably a place you've never heard of before in your entire life, which is okay, because I didn't know this place existed up until a month and a half ago. It's a small, peaceful town just a few minutes by car or public transport from Lyon, France's third largest city, in the Rhône-Alpes region. I'll be living here for two months (November & December, originally three months but there was a problem with my visa and the French embassy could only grant me the two extra months after my Eurotrip) with the Garcia family, learning all about the French culture, their food, way of life, and hopefully pick up more of their language while teaching them conversational English in return. It's a pretty awesome deal.
I've been planning this homestay since the beginning of the year when I randomly stumbled upon Cultural Homestay International after how many nights of endless Google searches on programs that would allow me to live in France for a short period of time without having to go through the pain-staking process of looking for a job and applying for a work visa, or having to pay hefty fees to study again. I wanted full-on immersion, where I didn't have to worry about working or studying, just living in a different country for a while, and CHI's World Explorers Program was what made this a possibility. You can read all about the CHI World Explorers Program on their website, which will answer all your questions about how the program works, but to be clear, it is a PAID program -- meaning you WILL have to pay to live with your host family. It was a painless process, though, and the World Explorers program head, Heidi, made it a very easy process as well. All I had to do was fill up my application, pay a downpayment fee, wait a bit until they found me a family and here I am! I think waiting to be matched with a family was the hardest part... But basically you'll have Heidi help you through everything.
I scheduled the homestay to commence right after my Eurotrip with Gab, so I'd save on airfare and because I wanted to experience winter + the holiday season. Europe is great with Christmas markets, so that's something I'm terribly excited to see with my own eyes. I'll try to document my life in France as much as I can and blog about it weekly.
Being it only my second day here, I'm still a little uncomfortable to move about the house freely, which of course wouldn't come as a surprise. This family and I are strangers to one another. I wouldn't want to make them feel uncomfortable in their own home, or I wouldn't want to offend -- so for now I'm treading carefully. Just this morning I stayed in my room for about 2 hours before stepping out, all because I felt too awkward to go to the bathroom even though I really needed to pee. I know, it's ridiculous! Give me a few more days and I'll start feeling normal again.
If you're wondering about my host family -- they're exactly what I was hoping for. Initially, I was very anxious and scared that we wouldn't be a match, that maybe there would be too much of a difference in interests, but I'm glad to say that they're very warm & welcoming, eager to learn the English language and also enthusiastic with teaching me all about the French culture. Oh, and they love wine -- I mean, of course they do, they're French afterall -- which is great because I love wine and have always wanted to learn more about it!
Wish me luck, and I can't wait to share all my new experiences on this blog. :-)
I'm also in the process of trying to edit my Eurotrip photos so I can share with you guys everything we saw and did. Thanks for the patience, I know I'm taking forever!