In France They Speak French

So I’m not sure if you realize this fun fact, but when staying in France, one will notice that people speak French. Shocking, I know. But really…everything is in French. My new phone is in French, my Spotify advertisements are in French, my host even talks to her cat in French. After being here for a week, it is still shocking—and frustrating. French is spoken everywhere, all the time, and with such ease. The only problem is that the ease has not quite reached my speech yet (I mean c’mon, five-year-olds here speak French with more fluency than I do). I’m still at the “trial and error…but mostly error” stage. It is frustrating to simply open my mouth and have it be painfully obvious that I am a foreigner. My newest game is to see how long I can avoid a salesperson speaking to me in English, uninvited, to move the conversation along. Now I have studied French for nearly seven years, but I am still asking people to repeat or slow down more often than not.

This is what I wanted, right? To be submerged in French culture, expand my knowledge, and learn the language? To watch French game shows in hopes of improving my comprehension? I guess…that is what I want. It’s just easier to stay comfortable with my program friends and the other international students who want to use English too. It takes so much focus just to understand the grocer asking me if I want a plastic bag for my purchases, much less understanding my professors. By the end of the first week, I was pretty worn out. But this is, in fact, what I wanted—to be stretched and challenged while studying abroad. Granted, being stretched hurts, and my pride is still wounded from my failure at speaking; but these growing pains are a part of the process. Yes it is annoying and tiring, but this opportunity is still amazing. In France they speak French, and hopefully soon I will too.

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