Tuesday, March 11, 2008

My Happy Place

I have found Nirvana in France. After trying (and failing) to visit the Sciences Po language department, playing email tag with various administration officials, taking a written language test, and patiently awiting the results of said test, I managed to get myself registered for a French language class, level moyen/fort. After just one two-hour session of French grammar, pronunciation, and the finer points of accent placement, I am utterly convinced that Tuesday afternoons will become one of my favorite times of the week.

The first thing you should know is that the class is incredibly diverse. We're a regular United Nations, actually: Americans, Italians, Chinese, Germans, Brazilians, Swedish, all here for the simple reason of not wanting to sound like complete idiots next to our French colleagues. In fact, the professor alluded to that desire by casually mentioning that her goal is to help us avoid the wrath of critical teachers and impatient French students. I wasn't sure if I should have been scared or relieved by this classroom objective, but I'm going to take it as a positive step in the right direction towards language fluency.

French class is quite possibly the only place in France where I don't feel like an outsider. We all have accents and willingly make fools of ourselves on a regular basis. We are all away from home and trying everyday to fit into a society that is known for its exclusiveness. We all wish we could speak better French. We all make mistakes. Knowing that no one can judge our language abilites lest theirs be judged in return makes us more eager to participiate in the discussions. Besides, it's so much easier to speak up in class when the topic is "what I did last weekend," and not "what I think about the legacy of the Maastricht Treaty."


Anonymous said...

Tanya, have you read "Me Talk Pretty One Day" by David Sedaris yet? I had it with when we studied abroad but I can't recall if you read it. Anyway, you need to. Miss you! Beth

Tanya said...

No, I haven't, but would love to! I'm burning through the books I brought here. Must find an English bookstore! Tanya

Cancemini4 said...

A few I recommend depending on what mood you're in:

1)Galignani--under the arcades on rue de Rivoli right next to Jardin des Tuileries. Supposedly the oldest English bookstore on the continent, they carry ALL the great foreign policy mags too.

2) Red Wheelbarrow--rue St. Paul, small and a little difficult to find I remember, but PACKED with books

3)And of course, you can't leave out legendary Shakespeare and Co. It is across the river to the right as you're looking at Notre Dame. Touristy but worth it.

Tanya said...

Great! Will definitely make it a point to check those out. Or you could give me a personal tour...when you come to visit Paris!!!