It’s hard to believe that it has been two weeks since I have arrived here. At times, it seems as if I have just gotten off the train yesterday, and yet at times it seems to have been months. The start of this week rolled out smoothly, with only tiny hiccups such as the malfunction of the trams which my roommate and I take each morning to go to the Institute. At first, we all thought it was a strike, which so typical in France that no one bats an eye if the train workers are calling for a strike; in fact, Air France has just announced a strike for next week and all the planes originating from CDG airport may be canceled or delayed—a real inconvenience for the people who are coming for the Euro cup. However, the trams next to my house has stopped due to an accident further south and would go back to work after three days.
At school, I am getting used to the weekly schedules, the amount of homework and the different methods each french professor adopts. It has became a habit for me to read the textbook and list general questions for the professor beforehand, and surprisingly, the classes became a lot more easier. After a while, I learned the each professor’s distinct way of teaching, which makes participating in class much easier. Once I knew the sequence of activities and what the teacher expects from me in terms of participation, the class became more enjoyable and fruitful.
Back at home, Madame Remion is very helpful in assisting our adaption to the French lifestyle. Every day at dinner she would explain the origin and tradition of each dish, and also practical things such as how to buy the various ingredients at the markets. Soon as I cooked up the courage to venture outside my room and initiate conversations with my Madame before and after dinner, I found out a lot more about her life, the history of the old house we live in, and the stories of other international students learning french who have stayed in her house before. I still find it hard to carry out a conversation without stopping now and then to search for a specific word or phrase. But I think I’m more open to speak in French with native speakers and I can understand a lot better compared to when I first arrived.