Monday, 11 February 2013

Baby steps

Happy one month anniversary, Bordeaux! It's a short relationship we've had so far, but you've definitely made your mark. 

I sat in class today wondering whether I had changed from the petrified, naive girl that arrived here thirty-three days ago and for a long time I was disappointed because I couldn't think of anything that had changed for me. I was still walking the same black dog I was in Australia, still struggling with the most mundane of tasks, like buying stamps from La Poste, and still missing home just as much. 

But as I was walking home, a man stopped me and asked for the time. And, without any hesitation, I looked at my phone and replied, "Dix heures quarante". It doesn't sound like much, but it was significant for me. I didn't panic, I didn't scramble for the correct words, I didn't mumble something incoherent and walk away to disguise the fact that something as simple as 10:40 was too difficult for me to place together without looking like a fumbling idiot... I didn't even think, I just said it. I felt like it marked my uneventful, anticlimactic entrance into the French language.  

In fact, I found later today, upon more reflection, there have been other, more important lessons I've learnt here. I was a petrified, naive girl when I arrived here, I cried for most of the 7 hour flight from Abu Dhabi to Paris. But I just so happened to be seated next to a French psychologist who gave me the best advice of anyone, and it was that no matter how poorly you can speak a language, how out of place you look and feel, people will warm to you if you just smile and try, try and smile. 

I'm still nowhere near the person I want to be by the end of this year, but these are my baby steps to success.

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