Life in Grenoble

Life in Grenoble

Monday, April 14, 2014

Natalie's encounters with the good, the bad, and the funny of French

That there is only about a month left for me here in France is really just unbelievable. I have a hard time trying to put into words how great it has been so far. Having real conversations in French, the food, the traveling, it’s all been unforgettable. But I think part of what makes this semester so great is actually the things that have been difficult to deal with. The miscommunications, the culture shock, the homesickness, all these things (and more) have ultimately made a huge impact on my time here… for the good.

I don’t want to exaggerate the times that have been rough, but there’s no denying that there have been plenty of times where I’ve thought, “What am I doing here again?” Like, for example, the time early in the semester when I thought my host parents asked me to pick up my host sister from school, but apparently they didn’t, and consequently thought she might have been kidnapped and were about to call the police. Yeah. Or smaller things, like eating at restaurants from time to time trying to order food without “parler petit-nègre,” speaking using incorrect and oversimplified language and gestures to get my point across. The fact that people can tell you’re American without even hearing you speak. And then getting stared at.

So where is the good in all this? Well, for one thing, they make great stories that I can laugh at now. But honestly, there’s this feeling that comes from suddenly realizing that I no longer need a pre-food-ordering pep talk, or knowing that if there’s a miscommunication, I can just explain myself… even if it takes a little more work to get the point across. Mistakes? Who cares? We’re in France! We’re learning! We’re living! And that’s what it’s about.  

This picture corresponds to how I feel my experience in France has been. After three hours of hiking (half of which was extremely steep and felt never-ending), sweating a ton, falling/sliding on my butt, there we were at the top! And what a view it was.


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