The Key to Studying Abroad is to Speak the Language
I am beginning my fifth week of studying abroad in the south of France. I made an errorin the previous article I wrote. That was the beginning of my third week! So far, I am basically having the time of my life. Sometimes the language barrier can really make me angry, because I want to speak to everyone so badly, but sometimes it’s impossible. As I begin my fifth week, I see such an improvement on understanding the teachers and people when they talk. I understand way more than I can talk.
What I enjoy most is speaking with my mother. The reason why I love speaking with her, is even though she speaks great English, she refuses to speak to me in English. Only French. It’s perfect! I have a good friend at school who speaks fantastic English, and she wants to talk to me in English, but I really want to hear French! We made a deal that she would speak English, and I would respond in French. I still would prefer if she spoke French, but it’s pretty fun both ways. One of my four brothers, the one who is my age, speaks great English as well. This also can make me want to speak English, but he reminds me time after time to speak French!
I am so in love with my family. We watch a lot of TV, and my mother demands that it is so good for my French. And I believe her! Also, when we watch TV we have subtitles, but only in French. It’s perfect. Next weekend, my mom and I are going to the movie theater. I’m really excited.
At school, I have attended all my classes and chosen the ones that will be good credits for when I arrive back home in February. I have a great schedule, although since I live in a tiny village far away from where my school is, I have to wake up at 6 if I start school at 8. When I go to bus stop in the morning, there are still stars out! I love my school so much, and I love the school system here. My history teacher is hilarious and loves what he’s doing, which makes it fun for the class.
The previous weekend, I went shopping with my mother and we bought gifts for my sister’s 18th birthday! It’s on Friday! I bought her a black dress, French perfume, a Nimes specialty (a sweet cracker you dip into coffee, tea, hot chocolate, milk, etc), and a little pillow stuffed with lavender with a sewn “C” on it, for Charlotte. I can’t wait to send it, cause I know she’s going to love it so much!! My mom helped me pick out everything and the Nimes specialty was her idea, which was perfect!
Every weekend, I have done something fun with my friends or my family. We go to the Mediterranean Sea often, and it is so amazing. I’ve gone to concerts, which I really recommend everyone to do, especially if you like music, because it’s a way to have fun with your friends and you can sit at a café. It’s so great. I’ve been sick actually two times, and I missed a few classes, but it’s not obligatory that I do the homework, since I don’t understand everything and I missed the lesson.
- Speak with your teachers! Make sure you talk to your teachers about homework, things you understand, things you don’t understand, etc. Make sure you update them on your state with the language. It will help them understand what homework you should do and how they should speak to you, etc.
- Do something that scares you everyday! I swear, I live by this rule. It gets your further, wherever you are. With the family, at school, alone asking about the bus, etc! It makes you feel better about yourself and you get to practice your French sometimes.
- Go shopping, go to a concert, go OUT! Wherever you live, go outside! Be with your friends or not. Either way, it’s a great culture immersion for you.
- Continue your hobbies! While abroad, if you have any hobbies you would like to continue, ask your host parents! I am currently taking 2 ballet classes and 2 jazz classes per week. It’s a great way to meet new people and to expand your horizons with your hobby!