By Sophie Stephens
For Emi Ariaux ’19, moving from La Garenne Colombes, France to Iowa City for her senior year was something she had dreamed of doing since her relatives told her stories of their time spending senior year abroad.
Ariaux has immersed herself in American culture by attending the Iowa State Fair, making s’mores for the first time and eating McDonald’s at 10 a.m. Additionally Ariaux has also been introduced to an ordinary part of life many students take for granted: having a sibling.
Being an only child in France, Ariaux has had to adjust to having two siblings here in America. As an only child, the experience of living with a sibling was something Ariaux was looking forward to.
“If I didn’t have this [host] family I would not have the same experience, and I’m so happy to live this experience right now,” Ariaux said. “I know they’re here for me, and if I need help they will always be here.”
Despite being separated from her friends back home, Ariaux has developed new friendships with her host siblings that transcend language or cultural differences.
“She just really is here to make friends and live how we live,” said Ryan Gamble ‘19, Ariaux’s host brother. “I feel like she is just wanting to build more connections with people.”
Other differences like sharing a bathroom with siblings, getting ready with her host sister Emma Howes ’19 in the morning and the freedom she has at school to switch classrooms throughout the day and take elective courses like AP psychology and introduction to theater have been exactly what Ariaux has been looking for.
“I think we have more liberty here to do what we want to do,” Ariaux said. “We can choose the classes that you want. The teachers are more friendly [here]. In France it is like the teacher and we are under the teacher and here too we have to respect the teacher but there is not this connection [in France].”
Although Ariaux may occasionally surprise her host brother and sister by slipping into her native tongue, the social and cultural differences between Iowa City and La Garenne Colombes have only made her experiences more authentic and meaningful.
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