Bonjour! We are so excited that the time has finally arrived–our French exchange student is here!
Arrival and Day One
We arrived at at O’hare with butterflies in our stomachs awaiting Auriane’s arrival. There were eleven other families there as well, all full of excitement and anticipation. When the students finally arrived it was a flurry of hugs and kisses.
On the car ride home, Auriane was extremely reserved and quiet. I talked her ear off and I think we may have been quite a bit intimidating. Upon arriving at our home, Auriane decided she was tired and went right to sleep. We were a bit worried–she had not eaten dinner or engaged like we had assumed; we began to worry.
In the morning, Auriane awoke with a fever and stomach pains. Mom had made breakfast, with the hopes she was ravenous since she skipped dinner the night before, but no such luck. We gave her some medication and she rested all morning and feeling better by noon, we took her to Navy Pier, which in hindsight was an over-zealous decision. She was extremely quiet, anxious, homesick, exhausted, and a bit under the weather, yet she was a trooper and held on all day. The language barrier was also a factor in stress level. We were mindful to talk slowly and Google translator has become our new best friend.
In the evening we deliberately decided to make the atmosphere much more relaxed and low key. We played cards and went to bed early, ensuring that Auriane gets a good night’s rest.
Fortunately, Auriane woke up the next morning refreshed, healthy and full of smiles. She said the rest did wonders and she seemed so much more comfortable, talkative–more at home. After breakfast, we decided to label items all over the house with the English and French words. Auriane loved doing this and it’s certailnly going to help my French as well!
Piece of Advice #1 For Host Families:
Don’t rush things. Being 13 years old and traveling across the world alone is extremely stressful. Let your exchange student guide your decision making. Be flexible, nurturing, patient and loving.