I’m heading into new territory. Literally and metaphorically, in fact. This will be my first time living on French soil, and my first time improving on a language I learned entirely from scratch. I’ve been waiting for this trip the entire year, or maybe even ever since I resolved to add French to my repertoire. That was in high school; I started with a computer program called Fluenz, which I found really effective. Then I took French in college, and today, I doesn’t speaks it badly, just not very goodly.
The most important thing for me to do, therefore, – and it wouldn’t make sense if I didn’t do this – is to try to speak French as much as possible. The idea of speaking so much French thrills me but also makes me uneasy. On the one hand, I am so enthusiastic to be able to have a real French conversation for once. Up to now, my experience with French has mainly been from lectures by the teacher, broken exchanges of words with my classmates in class, and several French films. That’s it, really. So now I’ll really have an opportunity to practice.
On the other hand, I feel awfully inadequate. Of course, this is just the beginning of my experience, and by the end of this trip, I am sure my French will be in great shape. Right now, though, I’ve been having a revelation of how many words I simply don’t know. I’ll ask myself, “Wait a minute... How do you say ‘to push’ in French? How do you say ‘dimple’? How do you say ‘I don’t like seafood,’ for that matter?” These are essential! Essential words! Sometimes I can’t even find the smaller words that describe them. A dimple is a pit in the cheek, but how do you say “pit” and how do you say “cheek”? Consequently, I’ve been reading the French-English dictionary the way you might read a novel or a newspaper, page after page, as I run my eyes down the columns of words and try to rake up as many of them as I can. I’m somewhat in a panic. Nevertheless, as a result I now know that the word for “dimple” is fossette. At least I’ve established that much.
When it comes to packing, I’ve been trying to decide what the best proportion of long-sleeve to short-sleeve shirts is. Should I split it fifty-fifty? As far as I can tell, it can be chilly over in Paris, but this week, the forecast is that it will be pretty warm. That’s this week, sure, but what about next week? I don’t want to pack too much, because I would like to bring back some souvenirs, whether they be trinkets or European clothes. They say not to overpack, but I don’t really know how much is overpacking. I have to sit down and really think about what I will wear and what I probably won’t. I heard somewhere that we only wear twenty percent of what’s in our closet. Just something to keep in mind.
My plane leaves tomorrow in the evening, and it will arrive the following morning. Then a shuttle will take me close to where I’ll be living, in the 8th arrondisement. My host family sounds really nice. The mother, Valérie, gave me very detailed information on how to get from the airport to her place, so clearly this isn’t her first time hosting a student. She has a son, but I don’t know much about him right now. I made sure, though, that I would be the only American residing at their place – no roommates, just me and French. The boy might want to practice his English, since probably everyone in France learns it at school. It’s equally possible that he won’t want to practice, since people can be shy about languages they’re learning. For me, en français, merci beaucoup. I’m also curious what their place will look like. I really want to meet them! I’m bringing them the finest, highest-quality gifts ever produced in this great continent of Texas. But I can’t tell you or I would spoil the surprise.
You know, this blog is going to be interesting for me.
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<p>I'm going to be a junior at Indiana University, where I will eventually, definitely, probably major in computer science. Despite such a technical degree, there is a lot outside of that sphere that interests me as well. I love to write and am trying to get good at fiction; I enjoy playing the bassoon (but I loathe practicing); lately I've been getting into epistemology (i.e. How can we know anything?); and I also like acting and hope to produce or star in a movie some day...some day. Ah, and yes, I love speaking French!</p>