I mapped out my daily voyage to school, practiced it once, and my first day had arrived!
I was as prepared as I was going to get, yet still nervous to venture off alone, but if I was going to be living in France for the next year I had to try to become a member of their society and not be scared to be alone. After 25 minutes on the train, then jumping on Metro 5, then on the 7, I made it to my stop. Now from this point I just had to find the school. (Was it left or right?) After walking in circles for about ten minutes, I found my school! My class was going to be five days a week (Monday-Friday) 3 hours a day, for 3 months. They said by the end I should have the basics down. Yes, just the basics.....
When I got in my class room, my initial reaction was to introduce myself, but when I looked around I realized not everyone in this room spoke English so I kept pretty quiet. Once the professor entered the room, she got started with introductions. We each went around and said our name and what nationality we were. "Bonjour, Je m'appelle Alex, Je suis Américaine."(Hello, my name is Alex, I am American.) The others in my class ranged from young to old, male and female, and from all over the world! China, Japan, Portugal, Brazil, Philippians, Venezuela, Iran, Hungary, Egypt, Russia, and Poland! I couldn't believe I was meeting people from all over the world in one room. There were so many questions I wanted to ask them about their own countries but like a said not everyone spoke the best English so that made it a little difficult. As a matter of fact, the entire class was in French, and so was our text book and work book. (This whole learning a new language is going to be harder than I thought, ummm translation please?) The class continued and we started with the basics, but to be completely honest I understood about 20% of what went on. The other 80% of the time I sat there and tried to guess what she could be talking about. Every once in awhile I would hear a word I understood and try to find where she was. To me it sounded something like: "Je vousud fhdjsfhjf hfhdjhfu *T-SHIRT* vla fodofosofns." "Ok, she's talking about a T-shirt somewhere!" Surprisingly there are a lot of words that are the same, just with the French accent so it takes practice to be able to recognize it. My new motto became "When in doubt just say the word I want to say in French in English, just using my French accent." Sometimes it doesn't work and you get a few strange looks, but sometimes it works like a charm, or enough to be understood.
Just like regular school she assigned homework and said to finish it by tomorrow. Once my normal class was over I had a break, and then one hour of a different class each day that went from Grammaire, Expression Orale, écriture, Phonétique, and Lexique. If you don't know what all of those are, well then you would understand how I felt when I looked at the schedule and wasn't sure exactly what I was walking in to. The different classes were a little more advance, technically my level, but clearly more advance than me. In these classes I met some more people, and some I could even carry on a conversation with (in English). But speaking in your native language in a French class only gets you in trouble.
(My friend from Venezuela, Mariangel)
Each day I got a little better and started to understand the language more and more. Which made me feel comfortable enough to explore different cafés and be able to order all by myself (instead of always having Thomas there to do it for me). Although I had improved, my accent was still far from perfect. Which brings me to funny story. I walked in to this cute café not far from my school and I walk up to the coffee bar to ask for a coffee. Thinking back on my lessons and Rosetta stones I look at the man and say "Bonjour, du café, sil vous plait." (the coffee, please) The man looked at me a little funny and was like "deux?"(2) I thought I had pronounced it perfectly but when I saw the confusion in his face, I repeated myself. Next thing I know he has two coffees placed on the bar for me. At that point it clicked, that my du and deux must have been confused because there I was alone at the café with TWO coffees. I took my two coffees to the table to drink and laugh at myself, I guess that's why he gave me that bewildered face. After that I really practiced what I felt would be useful on the day to day, and wrote them down in my little notebook.
- I don't understand. - Je ne comprends pas.
- What time is it? - Quelle l'heure est-il?
- I don't speak well French.- Je ne parle pas bien Français.
- *One coffee and cream please.-Un café et crème de s'il vous plaît
- Where is ?- Où est ?