When we first arrived, I had a lot of confidence for my language skills, as I had lived in Paris for a semester and I just finished a bachelor’s in French. So I expected to be perfectly fine, linguistically.
Well, in fact, I encountered some difficulties. Firstly, in Dijon the accent is different from what I’m accustomed to: Parisian and my professors. The other big problem I faced was the amount of time I was spending speaking English with the other members of our group.
I spoke French as frequently as I could, but it was nothing compared to when I lived here and now. I spend pretty much all day, every day in Dijon surrounded by my American friends and seldom used French for more than ordering something at a store. We had interpreters also, since most people on the trip did not speak any French.
So, after long days speaking English, I would come back to the hotel and talk in French with the people at the reception desk, and it did not even matter about what. I just wanted to talk in French. But I found myself losing confidence because I could not understand some of what they said and I was slow in my own speech.
Well, luckily it is coming back. I did have some good conversations where I felt at ease while in Dijon.
But now in Paris, it is a totally different story. I spent much more time either alone or actually with Francophones. I say francophone because I visited with a friend who is actually from the Ivory Coast, but with whom our common language is French.
In any case, I’ve been spending much more time speaking French and now that I’ve been without the group for more than a day, I’ve used practically no English, as I’m staying with a French woman named Véronique who does not really speak English.
Now I am back to where I was when I studied here – having difficulty maintaining English without inserting random French words, since I’m finally thinking in French again.