Explore Program FAQ’s
I love answering your questions, especially about new experiences where I can help provide some insider’s help! These are the questions I’ve received in the past, and maybe are the same ones you have too. Feel free to ask any new ones on the Explore page and I will try to answer them all as quickly as I can 🙂
Living with a Host Family
Are host families required to speak French or not?
Yes. Officially, the host families are not allowed to speak any English for the entire duration of your stay, just as the students aren’t.
Did you find that your host family was patient and interested in your French language?
Yes! I do think that it’s important to remember that being a host family is voluntary, so these families know what they are agreeing to and they WANT to share their language and culture with you! Also, they understand that you are learning the language, so they can better help you grasp new words and build up your confidence. If I didn’t know the word for something, in the residences I could “cheat” and just say it in English and everyone knew what I meant. In my host family, I had to describe the item to them and figure out what the actual word was. It was really helpful for my fluency with those little words you use daily. It was more that just speaking French. I was really living it
Are there more activities for students staying in residence vs. host family?
The Explore activities are offered to everyone, regardless of fluency or where you choose to stay. There weren’t any just for host families and just for residence students, although some host families included their students on family day trips. Some are included in the program free of charge. Others are optional and may have a small cost involved. The optional ones usually take place on weekends, while the included ones are in the evenings during the week (if they are local) or maybe on a Saturday if they are a day trip like going to the zoo or something.
You mentioned meals, do students staying with a host family eat lunch at the cafeteria or bring a lunch?
Breakfast: Host families provided breakfast; I ate croissants, toast, fruit, homemade pastries, coffee/tea, milk/juice. We had eggs and bacon once too. Residence students ate in the cafeteria; I heard they ate baguettes and fruit a lot, but I don’t know what else.
Lunch: We all ate lunch together. There would be a menu and we could choose 5 items off the menu, so usually an entrée, side, drink, dessert and salad. But maybe you needed two drinks, or you wanted to substitute your side for another dessert, etc. There were a lot of options for all dietary restrictions.
Dinner: Host families provided dinner; I ate a lot of yummy, homemade, local foods like tortière. I also helped my host mom cook once which I really enjoyed. Residence students ate once again in the cafeteria.
On Weekends: Host families were in charge of all meals on weekends; if you had a trip or activity that day, they would pack a lunch for you. Residence students were on their own for meals; they were given an allowance of $40 a week and had to cook for themselves.
Did you feel left out because you were away from campus?
Not at all. In my experience, all host families were either given two or more students (one took on four guys!) or they had teenaged/young adult children of their own living at home. I can’t think of anyone who was put with a host family where no one was close to their age. Plus, you will be spending most of your days in class with all of the students and most nights and weekends you will be out with them too. So I didn’t feel left out or on my own at all.
Is it common for host families to host more than one student?
Yes, most host families took on two students. One brave young couple with a newborn took on three girls without any problems and the girls absolutely adored their family. The couple were in their early 20’s, so sometimes the hosts are closer to your own age than to your parent’s age. Another family took on four guys and they also had two teenaged sons of their own! So you aren’t likely to be alone.
Did you find that you were able to see more of the city because you stayed at a host family?
Yes. I feel that having stayed with a host family, I “lived” there, as opposed to being on a “prolonged holiday”. On days or evenings that I had nothing going on, my host mom took us out on activities, like one time we visited her daughter who had a horse farm. So I saw more local life and was actually able to do some things the residence students did not get to do! My host mom was also a great source for local secrets and the “bests” of the city, which I maybe would not have known otherwise. Host families are not in the little university bubble, so you actually do have to mingle with the locals (even if you just say high to the mailman), and you really do feel like this is “your city” too.