Florine Lennartz


Erin McCloskey, Community Editor

Living nearly 4,000 miles away from her family and friends in Belgium, junior Florine Lennartz has found herself in a home away from home here in the United States. Lennartz, who lives with junior John Kyburz and his family, has discovered that life in America is very different from what she previously knew in Belgium.

Lennartz attended a public school in Belgium with more students, no uniforms, and no religious studies. She took 13 classes, and school lasted from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Also, sports were not offered at her previous school. “If you want to do sports, you have to find a different club. In Belgium, I used to do soccer and gymnastics, but it was out of school,” she said. Since coming to America, Lennartz has joined track as well as cheerleading.

Living with a host family has also been a new experience for Lennartz. “Family is different because I’m an only child in Belgium and now I have five siblings since John has three sisters and a brother,” she said.

Lennartz’s host family has also introduced her to traditional American holidays. “For Thanksgiving, we were in Virginia with his family and I met all the grandfathers and grandmothers, and that was really nice. I didn’t know what Thanksgiving was before, so it was very interesting,” Lennartz said.

Living with a host family has also improved Lennartz’s English speaking skills. “I hear [English] all the time and sometimes I even think in English now. Living with a host family definitely has helped me with speaking and I’ve learned a lot of new words,” she said.

While Lennartz has encountered many positive aspects of American life, she has also had to make adjustments to her daily life. “I have to adapt to what they do during the day, and since I can’t drive, I have to wait on [John] a lot or find a different person to drive me. In Belgium, it wasn’t like that. I just took the bus,” Lennartz said.

However, her independence and experiences both contribute to Lennartz’s appreciation for living with her host family. “I wouldn’t want to stay in the dorms and have to be back at a certain time and eat whatever they give me,” she said. “In a host family, I can make my own food and I feel like I have more connections to the people in America because you learn the culture and everything more than you would in the dorms.”

Erin McCloskey is a Community Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.