I arrived in Paris on Sunday morning and somehow managed to get to the Tours train station without missing either of the trains, considering how jet-lagged I was. I had some minor technology disasters in that my phone company neglected to tell me my cell wouldn’t work at all abroad, so I’m extremely glad that the language barrier turned out not to be too much of a problem in the first few hours. I knew there were plenty of English-speakers at the airport, but I managed to find my way around by asking for directions only in French! Personal goal fulfilled. All those exercises where we had to pretend to order food from each other in French class finally paid off. And so did those horrible, ridiculously fast listening exercises, since that was pretty much how the announcements sounded on the train.
I’m staying with a host family. My host mom’s name is France (which one could choose to view in a metaphorical way) and she takes in a lot of travelers trying to improve their French. There’s a Brazilian woman who barely even speaks a word of French, a guy I haven’t really interacted with much yet (besides some awkward clashes over using the bathroom first in the morning), and my host mom’s kids. I interact the most with my host mom, carrying on most of the conversation when she and the Brazilian woman and I have dinner together. She lent me a bike so I can get around Tours a little faster, so I feel like a real French person when I ride it to school.
I’m liking the Institut de Touraine so far, although I think they may have put me in a class that’s a little too easy. The language experience I want to gain is in articulating myself more clearly in arguments, discussions, etc., and so far I’ve barely gotten a chance to do that between reviews of grammar I already know. I’m planning on requesting to move up next week—although next week is going to be a little weird, because it’s technically a “vacation.” This week has been a little weird too, since I arrived during the last week of a class cycle and since because of various absences I’ve had a different teacher almost every day. Next week there should be some other students who are on a stranger schedule like me who will be taking some oral classes, and I’m hoping things will settle into place after that.