I’ve been here for just over two weeks now and I’ve been fully immersed into French life and the French language. A week after arriving I went to my first dinner party with my host family, I was surrounded by about 15 predominantly French speaking people and I literally had no idea what was being said for 90% of the time. However, I sat and I listened as well as I could to pick up on any parts of the conversation I could understand. It’s tough not being able to join in but I think it’s really important to put myself into these slightly uncomfortable situations, if for no other reason than to simply hear French being spoken both quickly and continuously. It’s very different from listening to what someone in a shop is saying to you, just you. Here I was hearing more than one conversation taking place simultaneously and it was HARD. Still, I survived and everyone there was very accommodating plus the food was great which is always a plus. It also helped one of the hosts is a translator and speaks perfect English so I had a couple of conversations with him. All about full transparency here.
I’m slowly but surely picking things up and I’m feeling more confident to say the occasional thing in French. I’m also asking a lot more questions about certain words, phrases, rules etc. Weirdly I’m more at ease speaking French when out and about by myself probably because there are fewer people in the direct vicinity to hear me mess up but I think in time that will pass. The family are switching to speaking more French to me (apart from when I don’t understand obviously) too which is really helpful. They also make a conscious effort to speak slowly so I have a better chance of catching what is being said. I’m definitely still nervous but know I need to get over the fear of embarrassment or I’ll never improve. Tomorrow I start orientation for school which is exciting and is my first step towards serious improvement. Lessons don’t start until 1st October but this was optional (for a small additional fee) and I thought, why not? I’ll update on this at the end of next week.
I’m starting to settle into the routine of the family now. All after school actives such as sport and music will have started by the end of this week meaning evenings are about to get a lot busier. I’m also falling back into a decent routine of exercise, I walk or bike everywhere within the town and I’m trying to go running three times a week too. It’s so nice to be spending so much of my time outdoors and active rather than inside and sedentary. It also helps that the weather has been pretty beautiful since I arrived which encourages you to go outdoors.
I’ve joined a couple of au pair groups on Facebook as my host family said there is normally a big picnic in September to mark the end of summer and I really want to go along to this. I think it’ll be a good way to meet people and at the moment I’m in a foreign country and friendless. I need to find at least one person to hang out with and asap so I can develop some kind of social life 🙈. I’m also hitting up Bumble both for mates and dates because it can’t hurt to give all your options a go right? The results might be better over here, right? I’ll let you know how that one goes…