One day–One Exam–OneLongJourney More!Nantes, Fall 2010
So, my time remaining in Nantes, France could now probably be reduced to a certain number of hours and minutes–for those fastidious few who have nothing better to do than count.
I just finished my Palestinian Question and Contemporary French Society final exams, and am not yet feeling motivated enough to begin studying for the fourth and final IES exam which I have tomorrow: French Writers. I still have two hours before all of those in Mme de Pous’ Grammar sections here at IES head over to her house for a short soiree of aperatifs, and so I thought I would add another blog entry.
It seems that the general consensus among the student at IES is that the upcoming return home will be bittersweet. Mainly bitter to be leaving host families and France behind, and mainly sweet to be reuniting with real families, friends, and significant others (yes, there are some long-distance relationships that have survived the 5 months of separation!). Out of about 80 students, only 11 will stay for the whole year, and the rest will return to their “real lives,” as we have taken to referring to them. And next semester, most of the gaps we are leaving behind in our host families will be filled with new students coming on their study abroads.
If I could give advice to those students, what would it be?
-At the beginning, don’t freak out. You are not the only one who feels incapable and rather uncomfortable. All over Nantes there are other American students sitting at the dinner table with their host families trying to learn the customs, trying to follow the conversation, and trying to act like they understand what’s going on.
-Don’t say “Je suis plein” after a meal in attempting to say “I am full”.
-Bread sits on the table, not on your plate. You use it to mop up and clean up your empty plate after you’re done.
-Always wear shoes or slippers in the house. It’s weird and generally frowned upon to wander around in socks. Bare feet? No no.
-Accept your family’s invitations to do things with them, especially at the beginning. Watch movies even if you can’t understand what’s going on (been there), go to church with them, go explore the neighborhood with them, etc. It’s better than hiding in your room and will set a pattern of you being present with and a part of the family as opposed to just a lodger.
-Don’t worry if you feel like your relationships with your family take a long time to form. Give it time, and form they will.
-Take advantage of things like conversation club to meet actual French people, and go out to dinner with them afterwards or meet up for a meal so you can actually form friendships. It will help so much with learning the language and otherwise can be quite hard to break through the “tough exterior” that a lot of French people can have!
That’s all I have for now, but when I write again after my return home, I will try to add more.
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