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Parle vous Anglais?

Miranda Hall, Global Staff Writer

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Bonjour mes amies, and welcome to Saint Germain-en-laye! This quaint little town is situated right outside of Paris and is full of rich French history. I have the opportunity to be living here for a semester as I pursue my studies in both Psychology and Liberal Studies. As a trilingual person, I came into SGEL thinking that French would be an easy pick-up for me, but in fact it’s quite difficult. I was raised speaking English, but I spent time abroad in both Japan, as a junior in high school, and Spain, as a freshman in college, learning their languages while I lived there, however I have never faced a challenge quite like French. I arrived in France knowing how to say “Hello, my name is Miranda” and “Goodbye” now these are important things but they don’t help me in every situation, many people here do speak English, but as many other countries around the world they prefer to speak their native tongue, French. Since arriving here three weeks ago my French has improved immensely. I can now count to 100, have a small conversation, and conjugate several verbs, but simply taking French classes is not what has helped me to learn.

I have engaged with many associations here at Science Po, this is the political science school that UNE has a partnership with here in France, such as radio, an integration weekend, and rap battles. These groups are run in French, and though I do need a translator, it really helps me to learn the language. I will be doing an interview with the radio club soon, introducing myself to the school, and discussing the American lifestyle and politics. As I am writing this, I am awaiting my friend to go to choir practice later tonight, of course, not all of my interactions with French students or people in general are exclusive to school events.

My third day in France I decided I wanted to go to Paris for the day; I did not know how to get there and while standing at the train station next to my apartment I met my savior, a girl named Aline; she took me on the bus and showed me how to get to and navigate through Paris. Due to our interaction I picked up several new French words and made my first friend in France. Once another UNE student, Laura, arrived, we went off to Paris again. She was armed with a French dictionary and I had a map of the city. We needed help so we took out the dictionary and went up to French people on the street asking for help. They were so kind in response to our attempts to speak French, but would always respond in English to help us out. Later that night, there was a party at our apartment complex where we met a lot of French students who now are our friends and French tutors.

Though this language is a complex and difficult one, it is beautiful and poetic. The challenges I’ve faced in learning this language have only helped me to gain a broader knowledge of the culture and country. And even though textbooks and French courses are helpful to learn, the best way to learn is to make friends and interact with the lovely people of France.

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