What I Never Learned in French Class

Mimi Price
September 11, 2013

Hopping off the plane at Orly, I was feeling pretty confident. I had just survived 17 days alone in Italy and basically all I can say in Italian is ‘pizza.’ Having studied French for a few years, I thought adjusting to life in Paris would be a piece of gâteau. Staring at the confusing jumble of colors and names I didn’t recognize, trying to plan my Metro route to school, I realized that things wouldn’t be as simple as I thought.

  • In French class, I never learned how to open a door. Maybe I am the only one that has this problem but the lock clicks three times before it opens. I decided going for a walk on my first evening here was a great idea, but when I got back I realized I couldn’t get inside. I was so flustered and panicked because I couldn’t unlock the door. That’s when I met my host dad for the first time. Not a good first impression…
  • I never learned how obviously American I sound when I speak French. I went to a coffee shop one morning and ordered a latté in French. I probably spoke 5 words to the barista but she replied instantly in English. Good thing I have 3 months to practice sounding less American!
  • One of my first tasks in Paris was to buy myself a cellphone. I went to the local phone store, took a number, and waited my turn. When they called my number, I froze. I didn’t know any of the vocabulary necessary for phone shopping. I blanked and couldn’t even remember how to say ‘cellphone.’ Through a mix of mangled French and hand gestures, I managed to convey my message.
  • I always thought the French eat croissants every morning for breakfast. I was very disappointed to learn that this is not true!
  • I never learned how French showers work. I don’t understand how I am supposed to hold the shower head while shampooing my hair at the same time. I just end up spraying water everywhere!

Paris will definitely take some getting used to. It’s big and crowded and noisy. But it’s also unbelievably beautiful. Where else can you spend your morning strolling along the Seine with a crêpe in hand before picnicking in front of the Eiffel Tower? Whenever I get overwhelmed adjusting to my new home, I remember the words of my idol, Audrey Hepburn:

‘Paris is always a good idea.”

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Mimi Price

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hi! My name is Mimi Price and I am a junior at Santa Clara University where I study French, Economics and International Business. I have been looking forward to study abroad my whole life and I am beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to study in Paris. By the end of my program, I hope that I no longer feel like a tourist, but feel that Paris is my home. My goal is to embrace all that Paris has to offer from the language to the culture to the history. My hobbies include shopping and eating, so I think that Paris will be a good place for me!</span></p>

2013 Fall
Home University:
Santa Clara University
French Language
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