1/ Introduction

Going abroad is a dream of many students and young people. European passport owners don’t need any visa or work-permit to live and work in another EU country. But it is a little bit more complicated when it comes to moving to another Continent.
I had the chance to go to the U.S for the first time when I was 16 years-old. Originally, I wanted to go to Japan, but since it was too expensive for a modest family like us, my parents decided to send me to Boston during 3 weeks for summer vacations. The concept was to spend the whole stay with an American host family in order to get used to the American culture and improve my English, which was kind of average back then.




2/ Giving presents to American people: a challenge?

In my country, when you are going to stay at somebody’s home for quite a long time, it is customary to bring presents, especially from the country you are from, so that you can introduce yourself and break the ice more easily. Bringing some souvenirs from your country gives a good first impression to your hosts. Since it was my first time in the US, I went shopping with my mom a few days before the departure. We bought French food such as chocolates, and foie gras (delicate French cuisine made of the liver of a duck or goose that has been specially fattened). But the last one was a very big mistake: American people hate animal cruelty, and being “vegan” is a respected trend and a way of life there. As soon as I gave my first host family the delicious-looking foie gras, they made a disgusted face and refused to touch it. Then I realized that presents should be limited to chocolate and postcards. In case you are wondering what happened to the foie gras, of course I didn't throw it away; I kept it all to myself!



3/ Independence and path to adulthood

To me, travelling alone is very important because it forces you to grow up. Indeed, you have to face and figure out new challenges and experiences, and if you get in trouble, you have to get out of difficult situations all by yourself.
When I first got on the plane I was so excited. I had to take the plane 2 years earlier to go to Montreal with my family, but it was not the same: this time I was going very far from my country and my roots, all alone. I was not realizing yet, but I was taking a big step towards becoming an adult.
Of course, I was not travelling all alone, as I was under my organization’s responsibility, so I knew I could call them and rely on somebody if something happened. Actually, I was trying not to be negative. But what I didn’t know yet is that my journey was far from over; in fact, it hadn’t even started yet…



4/ Host family, disappointment and making decisions

During my trip, I had two host families. The reason is that I couldn't get along with the first one. They were an African American family with a lot of children. I was staying with another French girl in the same family and we were not considered as French students who were visiting the US to learn more about the culture, but as “babysitters” whose role was to take care of the family’s children. I was surprise to realize that I had no freedom in the Land of Liberty; I couldn't go outside even for a walk, and the only time I was able to take a breath of fresh air was for 10 short minutes, with the non-negotiable condition to take the children with me. They were very religious, so we had the choice to stay home or come with them to the church.
For American people, the sentence “help yourself” is a symbol of hospitality, but at that time I couldn't feel any sort of warm reception: Actually, the refrigerator was full of baby bottles, frozen food and enormous bottles of drink. That’s why I spent one week eating beans and drinking orange juice.
Then, the other French girl and I couldn't stand the situation anymore. We called the organization who sent us to this family. The next day they were transferring us somewhere else. Our new family came to pick us by car; we were saved. That day I understood that if I didn't ask for help by myself, I could have spent my whole stay like this.


アメリカ人にとって「help yourself(ご自由にどうぞ)」というのは、ホスピタリティの象徴だが、その時私は温かく歓迎されているとは感じられなかった。実際に、冷蔵庫はベビー食品や、冷凍食品、巨大なドリンクのペットボトルだらけだった(自由に取って食べれる物は何もなかった)。そのため、1週間も食べ物は豆、飲み物はオレンジジュースだけの生活だった。

5/ Conclusion

In this report, you might think that my first trip to the US was a nightmare: of course it wasn't. Six years has passed since I went there, and sometimes human brain tends to remember only the sad moments. At the beginning, I had a rough time trying to get used to a new culture, a new climate, new customs in a country I had never been to before. My second host family were very nice people, and since I spent most of the time with them, they made me forget about my previous disappointing twists and turns. I am still getting in touch with them using internet networks.
If I had the opportunity to go to Boston again, I will definitely go to see them, because it is important to get along with people from all over the world in order to become bicultural.