Chère Rotarians,

Time is still flying by and I continue to make memories and discover new things in the lovelt France.

. A lot has changed since I wrote last, I can actually speak French fairly well now and I am able to hold conversations, which is great and makes life a lot easier. My overall happiness level has increased now that I have an awesome host family and I have traveled a bit more and experienced a French Christmas!


I moved families in mid-November and have really bonded with my host parents and three sisters. I have a ‘petit chien’ named Champagne and my new house is very nice. My host dad knows just about everything and he shares his knowledge with me. It’s great, not only because I am learning random pieces of information every day, but also because I have the chance to speak French a lot more than before. Since moving, my French has become a lot better and it is because I speak with my host mom and dad a lot. During the week, I am alone with my host parents because Lucie, the oldest, goes to university in Paris, Marie goes to University in Lille and comes home on weekends. And my younger host sister goes to a boarding school and is home on weekends as well. My host sisters and I laugh all the time and I really enjoy spending time with them. It feels really nice to be comfortable in your house and to be able to interact with the family a lot. It’s nice to be in an atmosphere where you’re welcome in the home you’re living in. Christmas was a lot less difficult than I had expected it to be because of my host family!

I went to Luxemburg with my classmates and it was a very informative trip. We learned a lot about the European Union and I had the chance to become closer with some of the people from my school.  After the trip to Luxemburg I got the flu, which lasted about a week. I learned that being sick without your own mom to nurse you back to health and give you back massages is not ideal but, as the French say, “C’est la vie.” Once I recovered from “la grippe” we went full force into Christmas holidays.

                   My Noël was really enjoyable and I certainly discovered a lot of French culture. I began my vacation by heading to my host family’s house by the sea in Le Touquet which is a really beautiful, rich town on the ocean. We spent the weekend walking on the beach (in the freezing cold), shopping at the Christmas Market, celebrating Mass at a very pretty Church, visiting with friends and spending time together, relaxing. The week continued with shopping with my host mom and sisters, Christmas parties, eating and friends. I went to Lille (the big city I live next to) to be with the other Exchange Students a lot. We had a secret Santa party one afternoon and exchanged gifts. I gave a French Christmas CD and a box of chocolate and received a bottle of French Beer which I gave to my club president and a Beret (So French).  One night I had a Christmas Party with my classmates, which was a good ‘soiree.’  I also went to a dinner party where we ate “Raclette” which is melted cheese, potatoes and meat. I had 4 Raclettes over the Christmas Break! It is a very traditional French meal during winter especially in the Alps. I’ve been baking a lot too which my host family really enjoys!  I’ve made Rice Krispie Squares, Christmas Cookies, a pie and other things.

                The day of Christmas Eve was low key. We just lounged around and watched a movie, baked and got ready. At 6:00p.m. we headed out the door for Christmas Eve Mass. It was different than mass at home because firstly, it was in French, and secondly there were not little cousins to play with so I actually had to sit and behave. There were no colouring books or toys to play with which was certainly a change. After, we enjoyed a meal at my ‘Host Aunt’s House’ and opened presents. When we returned home, my host sister gave the family, ‘Just Dance 3’ so we stayed up until 2:00a.m. dancing the night away!

                Christmas morning we got up, ate a regular breakfast of toast, Nutella and Hot Chocolate in a big bowl. We then gave each other presents; I gave my host parents scarfs from Canada, my mom a broach, and my dad a key chain with beavers on it. I gave my sisters ‘Stockings like in the movies’ with their names on them, filled with candy and I gave each a bracelet. The family gave me two bracelets, a bag and notebook with angels on them and a nice key chain. It was not like at home where parents give their kids a lot of presents but it was a nice family time.

We then went to my ‘Host Grandma’s’ for two big feasts, present opening and family time. We ate a full meal around 12:00p.m. then opened presents and visited a little. At around 5:00p.m. the Grandma asked us to set the table again. I actually thought it was a joke but we had another full meal!  We ate pork, duck, a lot of cheese, salad, vegetables, bread and lots more! Once we went home, we watched a movie and went to bed.

It was certainly a Christmas I will never forget and I am so happy to have spent it in France! I also recently had a birthday which was different as well and unforgettable. My host family made it really special for me by inviting my friends over to eat crêpes and cheese. It was really nice of them.

Time continues to pass and I have my return date set which is kind of scary, I go home in five months. I am a lot happier now and I feel confident in French, I forget English words a lot which, I guess, is a good sign for my French.  I am looking forward to all the things coming up like going to Scotland tomorrow and London in February. I change host families in a few weeks which will be hard because I love my current family but my next family seems really awesome too. 

I hope you are all staying warm and enjoying the exchange students in Brantford.


Paige Smitiuch