Students have a unique and special opportunity to be a part of a
local host family and to learn about how families live in France.
Our host families have been interviewed and carefully selected, and
many have hosted for numerous years. They have an understanding of
our program and are invested in the goal of cultural exchange.
Living with another family, however, even in a familiar culture,
requires a lot of patience, openness and willingness on the part of
both the student and the host family. This may be the most
challenging aspect of your time in Talloires, but it has the
potential to be the most rewarding. It is well worth the effort! The
host family experience can provide you with insight into how other
people live as well as friendships to last a lifetime. We hope that
you will observe, process and grow from this perspective.
As you get used to your host family, you will understand what is
important to them and how they function. Participation in family
activities and events will help them know you better, too. Of
course, you might not always agree with what your family says and
does. But through discussion and agreement, both you and your host
family can work to understand one another better and learn more
about yourselves, each other and the world. That is the magic of
There may be times when differences in language, culture or
personalities can make the host family stay overwhelming. The staff
of the European Center is there to help you navigate your
relationship with your host family. We are always ready to intervene
on your behalf, no matter what the issue is, and help resolve
misunderstandings or problems.
has a very detailed section on living with your host family that you
should read before arriving in Talloires.
Here are a few topics regarding the host family experience:
Your host family will expect you to try to converse with them. If
you don’t speak French – fear not! You’d be surprised how much can
still be communicated through the language barrier. You can
certainly count on going home at the end of the program with an
increased French vocabulary.
Avoiding waste and conserving energy are very important
social/political issues in the current French culture. Your host
family will reflect France’s more aggressive attitudes about
ecology, organic food, recycling, and sustainability. In general,
people in France are very careful and tend to make do with much less
Eating in France is serious business and food is an expression of
culture, tradition and love. The dinner table will likely be the
place where you spend the most time with your host family. You may
be confronted with new and different foods. Politely decline or give
a try - it is all part of the experience! Etiquette and table
manners are important, and often host families will use dinnertime
to expose you to traditional local cuisine. It is often
carbohydrate-and protein-heavy (and possibly laden with cheese), but
every family will be different. The French are used to smaller
portions of food due to the richness of some dishes and the number
of courses in a typical French meal. Students often are surprised at
how late and how long dinners will last, but this is a great
opportunity to get to know your family better.