It’s hard to believe that we’ve been in Grenoble for a little over a month now. Although sometimes I feel like there’s still so much yet to learn, after spending a lot of time in discussion with my host family, meeting and talking with French and international students, watching TV and listening to the radio, I can already see a huge improvement in my oral comprehension. It’s really satisfying to not have to ask someone to repeat themselves every five seconds, and it really helps keep the conversations fluid.
Classes so far have been sufficiently challenging. In our language courses we’re being trained to take the DELF and/or DUEF (I always confuse the two), which is similar (I think) to the TOEFL test in the United States in order to start taking courses in English at the university level. I definitely have a greater understanding and respect for the international students who are preparing for the TOEFL exam at OU. Although it was daunting at first, it’s really great to see how reading a tricky newspaper article or responding to questions that go beyond just a simple “yes” or “no” answer is already much easier than it was a month ago. It helps that our professors are really cool and definitely do their best to help us succeed.
That being said, they are much more direct than professors in the U.S, and thus have no qualms discussing your weak points on an assignment being handed back in front of the rest of the class. Sometimes thick skin is required. But again, you really can tell they want us to do our best.
One of the elective courses that I’m taking is essentially an acting class. I really didn’t know if I wanted to take this class since I’m generally pretty shy, but I must say I’m really glad I did. I’m the only native English speaker in there so I have to speak in French with the other students, and we all have a good laugh playing silly improvisational theater games while unconsciously improving our pronunciation, intonation, and just our general ability to produce intelligible thoughts.
My career path definitely won’t be taking a turn toward theater work any time soon, but between language classes and electives, the rest of the semester is sure to be progress-filled!