I’ve been a little slow at getting real posts up here since I got to France, so I’m really sorry about that, guys! A lot of my posts have been pictures, which are lovely, but I think it’s time to learn a little more about the place I’m living in.
Even if it’s not the place I’m living in, at least how my average day goes by. Studying abroad is like being a student in another country, not a tourist. And it’s because I don’t have all that jazzed-up time to go travel to different countries or drink every night since I’m too busy studying. However, I think I’m improving, but, to be completely honest, I’m not improving as fast as I would like to. I’m still translating a lot of the stuff I want to say in my hand. Not nearly as much as before, but I still am and it’s the reason why I’m speaking so slowly all the time. A lot of the girls (maybe all) in my group speak a lot faster than me, and it’s making me a little nervous. I worry that I won’t advance as fast in conversation, which is really the whole purpose why I’m here anyway.
It’s really hard to meet French people for me, and it’s probably because I’m not assertive or confident enough in myself to be able to approach a French person and begin speaking French. Because if I do, I would like them to not know I’m American, which would help my self-confidence a lot, and that I can speak as quickly as them without always leaning in and saying, “Répétez, s’il vous plaît. Mais lentement.”
I listen to the other girls in my group and they seem to just be letting their sentences roll
off the tip of their tongue, and everyone understands what they’re saying. It’s me who has to repeat my questions and sentences because everything is in jumbled words and don’t make sense. I think fast, but I speak slowly, which is really just a terrible combination if you think about it.
I know I shouldn’t be comparing myself to other people, but I can’t help it. It helps me track how well I’m improving, and I feel as if I am doing so very slowly. I need to start speaking French with the American people…maybe that would help. I definitely speak English too much. Even though I feel ridiculously comfortable in the moment, I regret it later, which doesn’t help at all.
That’s it. I’m going to speak French tout le temps. We’ll see how that works.
Either way, the typical life of a study abroad child. Right now, I am in Montpellier (link), which is a little town in the south of France. However, it’s not considered little to the French people. To them, this city is huge and filled with lots of diversity, commerce, tourism, etc. Which is true, but it is no New York.
This is the other problem with meeting French people: there is so much diversity here that it’s likely the people around you have a 50% chance of speaking a language other than French (but that doesn’t mean they speak English). The key is to go out. I’m doing homework all of the time, but I’ve never actually gone out to a bar or out of my way to speak to French people.
This town is very much like a college town. Lots of schools, lots of students, lots of youth life. However, it’s a lot like Paris. You walk down one street and there’s a significant monument on your right. Then you go down another street and there’s another significant monument ahead. Everything is crowded and packed. Gypsies are everywhere, which is really annoying because it’s like they can smell who is and who is not French.
The Resting Bitch Face is a necessity here, because it scares the unwanted off (cough cough, gypsies.) You want to know why people think French people are snobby and mean? Well, this is why, my friends, and it’s not because they are mean, but rather that they want some security. Stay out of my personal bubble and stop stealing my damn money.
So as the naturally smiling American, you should practice your RBF. Well, if you want to keep the creepy guys off your shoulder. I may not have a French bae, but I’d rather be single than risk the chances of getting some weird sexually transmitted disease or being sexually harassed in public. I’m all about practicing my French, but I draw the line when it comes to meeting strangers on the streets. Plus, I naturally have a very good RBF. Plug your headphones in and just look straight ahead. Don’t forget to put your phone in your purse or bag, not your back-pocket. Those gypsies know where to look.
It’s beautiful here, though. Because everyone sucks at driving (you think New York traffic is bad?), people take the tramways and buses. Or they walk. I walk, but I have to get through a really terrible neighborhood where I got unwanted sexual attention, so I began taking the tram. I’ll tell you more about the background behind those neighborhoods later, but right now, I’ve gotta run.
Don’t forget that I’m 6 hours ahead. So posts may be coming in at weird times for you guys back in the States (I think it’s 1am right now…sorry)! Hopefully you’ll see this when you wake up and not to worry – even though this sort of sucks ass that I can’t speak well, I’m alive and okay. So think good thoughts for me, because, hell, I’m going to need them.