Getting a New Sister

November 5, 2015 | Melanie Candelario

The thought of having a complete stranger in your home can be pretty unsettling at times. That’s how I felt once I agreed to host a French foreign exchange student from our sister city, Noirmoutier, at my house. Since I was smaller I always wanted to have someone from another country stay at my house, but when the time came, I was TERRIFIED.

Many people have asked me, “Do you have to take French class or be in the French Club to host a student?” No, actually. Mrs. Lanoue came to my Spanish class near the end of the school year last year to see who would be interested in hosting foreign exchange students from France, and of course, I took advantage of that opportunity and was able to choose from a stack of profiles who I would be interested in hosting.

After deliberating with my family for a little while, we finally chose Chloè Caron, a fourteen-year-old girl. We received her profile which included who she was, how old she was, where she was from, what she liked to do in her free time, and other miscellaneous details. I also received her email so that I would be able to contact her.

Not traveling a lot affected me more than I’d like to admit. When I began to email her, I had no idea what to expect. What I didn’t expect though, is the fact that we would have so many things in common. Somehow, in my mind, I had pictured America to be more technologically advanced than any other country. So imagine my surprise when she was sending me emails from her iPhone! Suddenly, and I know this sounds clichè, all these other doors opened, and I was able to see  beyond my city, my state, my country; and I liked it. Who would’ve known that we would like the same bands, same games and movies, or even the same foods?

Chloè and I emailed back and forth for about 4 1/2 months, with her better than average English and my shoddy French. We talked about many things. From American and French politics to which we like more, cats or dogs. I got to know her pretty well but I was nowhere prepared to receive her.

When the time did come, I was a nervous wrack. We got to the airport, I had all these thoughts running through my mind. What if I don’t remember what she looks like? What if she doesn’t like me? What are we going to talk about? I was worrying myself sick! Turns out, my worrying was for nothing. When she came out the doors, I spotted her right away and waved. My family grabbed her luggage and left to go back home and sleep since the students arrived at ten o’clock at night.

Having someone that I didn’t know at my house was a little weird. We were from different cultures and from different parts of the world. For the first couple of days it was really awkward. We’d be sitting at the kitchen bar, just looking at one another not saying anything. Thankfully, the French Club held events in which we could interact with other French and American students. One day we even went to the beach by the Crab Trap in Destin. At first, we all kind of just stood around chatting nervously. But then we all ended up in the water and we were having sand fights! From there, it was as if some invisible iceberg had crumbled.

Chloè and I would stay up late into the night talking about nothing and everything (including boys!!!). We became good friends quickly and got very close. We would have silly petty arguments like which Oreo flavor was better. At one point we even swapped clothes to go to school. Even my mom said that it was like Chloè was “part of the family.” To me, she was.

Overall, the trip was a huge success. The saddest part was when Chloè  and the other French students had to leave. When we got to the airport, all around us there were sniffles and tears. Even the boys had tears in their eyes (even if they tried to hide them). It was the saddest and shortest two weeks of my life. In the end, I had to say “Au revoir, ma soeur” (goodbye my sister).

I still keep in contact with Chloè, emailing her ever so often. And I also plan to travel to Europe this summer and visit with Chloè’s family. If you have an interest in going to France this summer please see French teacher, Mrs. Chris Lanoue in room 408.

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