Shen, Ningzhou

Name: Ningzhou Shen
Location of Study: France
Program of Study:
Sponsor(s): Mary Anne Reilly

46 thoughts on “Shen, Ningzhou

  1. Today is my second day in Paris and I have been impressed every moment since I set foot in this city. I took a bus and needed to change at Place Charles de Gaulle – Etoile. Arriving at six o’clock in the morning, I was very tired. But when I got off the bus, the sight of the magnificent Arch of Triumph awakened me. Dragging my two huge cases across the street in the chilly Parisian wind, I became more and more excited about the next five weeks here. On the way, I asked many people directions. Although I always started by French, they would switch into English to answer my question. I really appreciate their kindness and help, but I also hope fervently that by the end of my stay people on the streets in Paris would feel it is alright for me to talk to me in French. In the next few weeks, I would like to speak French as much as I can and make full use of this language environment.
    It’s also the National Day of France and I went to see the parade and the fireworks. Although still tired from jetlag, the magnificent scenes kept me awake and excited. I noticed that most shops were closed. My host family told me that it was because many of the Parisian people are on vacation this time of the year in South France. What a pity!

  2. Class in Alliance Francaise has started and I am in the level B1. I soon found out that although grammar was not hard for me, this level requires very high aural and oral skills and I need to work hard to catch up. For example, we watched a video of a piece of news on France 2 about people who choose to live an environmental-friendly life by collecting and eating recently-expired food thrown away by the supermarkets. I could only understand half about it while after I got the script I found I knew most of the words.
    My classmates are from all over the world. Brazil, Japan, Colombia, United States, England, Italy, Spain… We communicate a lot during and after class in French. We would sit in the cafeteria together for snacks and go to the Jardin de Luxemburg together after class for a picnic. Talking to other students in French is really helpful because we could notice each other’s mistakes and make sure that we don’t make them ourselves. It is also interesting to learn about their experiences. There is a Japanese lady who is 68 years old. She is an artist and had a big exhibition in Paris five years ago. When she was here for the exhibition, she fell in love with Paris and decided she needed to come back and learn French. Now she finally has time and she’s here with us! I really admire her passion and courage.

  3. My host family is a very nice and helpful couple. The house is near Montmarte, a very artsy area of Paris. On the day I arrived, my host mom took me for a walk around the area and helped me got my Navigo, which is a card that can be used for both the Metro system and the buses. They speak to me in French with patience all the time although both of them are fluent in four or five languages, including English. When I am in school, my host mom would call me in French and ask me if everything is okay. I told her that I was nervous to speak French on the phone so she decided to help me practice and overcome this fear. There is another girl staying in the family. She is Belgium and she is 23 years old. Having learning French for eight years, she is way more advanced at French than I am. When we have dinner, she would talk fluently in French with the host family and at first it was really hard for me to speak. But they would stop from time to time and ask for my opinion and help me practice patiently. Sometimes it became too hard for me to express something in French and English just slipped out of my mouth. They would stop me kindly and push me back to the French track. It can get tiring, especially after a day’s class and activities. But doubtlessly this is extremely helpful for my oral and aural French. I am really lucky to live with such a host family.

  4. Today I took a trip to the museum of perfume organized by Alliance Francaise. The guide explained to us the history of perfume, the way to make it, and the different kinds of perfume in French and I am glad that I understood the most part. There are a lot of activities like this to take part in Alliance Francaise. For example, I am also going to a trip in Latin quarter next week and every week they show good French movies. These activities strengthen what I learn from the classes and make me more exposed to the French culture.

  5. As I become more familiar with the French environment, I become also much more involved in class and I feel I am getting so much out of the Intensive French course in Alliance Francaise. Our teacher is a young French girl named Sara and she is not only responsible but also vigorous and funny. We are often asked to work in groups, write skits and perform them out using the new words and grammar we are learning. Even for the most mechanical grammar drills, Sara tries to fit them in some interesting stories so that we actually enjoy doing them. The class lasts for four hours every day but I have never felt tired because four hours just pass so quickly when we are having fun and learning. I also enjoy the culture interaction during class. We are a very diverse student body and there are a lot to share about each other’s culture. For example, one day we were talking about emotions and Sara asked us to present some gestures in our own cultures that convey different emotions. It was interesting and informative to find that Italians use gestures all the time when they talk and that French and Chinese cultures have many gestures which mean the same.
    After class we write essays and hand them in the next day. Sara would correct them very carefully. Through the intensive usage of this language I have become much more comfortable using French and both Sara and my host family tell me that they think my French is becoming more and more idiomatic. This progress has been really encouraging and it also reminds me that after I leave France I still need to try to use French a lot to keep it. One never realizes how much one is learning a language by using it!