4th Down and Goal to Go

A little sports reference there because I really miss being able to watch sports (less than one month for CFB!!!). It’s the Olympics, and I swear the people in charge of broadcasting in France must hate real entertainment, because I’ve been getting ping-pong instead of Team USA Basketball… just disgraceful.

Fun fact, I was chosen to speak to a local journalist about my school C.I.E.L Bretagne. However, I ended up mostly just talking to the director of the school about myself, as she gave all my info to the lady who wrote the article. Here’s the photo from that newspaper


Not ashamed to say that I love cargo shorts, but this is a bad picture. I was running late that day just threw things on…

I think by now I have pretty well adjusted to public transportation here in Brest. By that, I mean that I am no longer timidly getting on the bus, or struggling to find the stops. Also, in shops, people have mostly stopped replying to me in English when I speak French, so that seems good too. I can go in, order food, ask questions about prices, all in French. Next step is to get my hair cut…

This week in the higher level was great. The focus was on different tenses like the Anterior Future, the Conditional Past, which I had knowledge of, but not mastery, so as usual, it was time well spent. The oral comprehension is definitely less challenging now. I can now understand some parts of readings and priest’s homily at mass (which is up from absolutely nothing the first few masses). And at the dinner table, it’s also definitely a solid improvement as well, though the arguments are still not fully comprehensible. These oral comprehension gains have thus translated to my schooling as well. I struggled with those sections on my prior weekly assessments but I think I did much better this time around (when I get my test back we can confirm my suspicions).

On a side note I’ve found that in my spare time, (mostly weekend nights when I’m not going to the beach, walking around Brest, or spending time with my hosts), watching French movies/TV with French subtitles is really useful for learning and retaining vocabulary. If there are new words, I write them down, while seeing the ones I’ve learned thus far helps solidify my understanding and memorization. I’ll admit, I have what they say in French the heart of an artichoke, which is to say I’m a sucker for romantic stories. Thus, I really liked Les Emotifs Anonymes,  a fun lil’ Rom-Com on Netflix.

This week’s community interaction as actually really convenient to do at home, as I live with an immigrant family. My host dad is the son of 1st generation Portuguese immigrants, while my host mom came here from Vietnam as a child. I was relieved to learn that they did not think they were treated any differently here in Brittany for their ethnic minority statuses, except for a few remarks made towards my host mom in school (I totally understand that experience given my background as an Asian American. Even the week before I left for France, some elementary school kids at my neighborhood basketball court made imitations of Asiatic languages towards me, and said that I didn’t speak English. But I digress, that’s just bad parenting).

On the other hand, my hosts both agreed that racial discrimination and prejudice is stereotypically more prominent in southern France (think Marseille area, they noted), and it goes towards the Muslim Arabic communities, especially right now with the refugee crisis. I thought this might explain why my hosts didn’t receive particularly different treatment, because neither of my hosts are a part of this demographic.My hosts obviously were quick to condemn such behavior from their countrymen and the Front National, which they said was just no good. But based on that description, it would seem to me that the social climate here with Arabs is similar to that of the United States with African Americans, but perhaps not as historically problematic (as in there was no slavery or Jim Crow).

If I could give a comparison of my views as a denizen of Northern Virginia (as I cannot speak for all of the United States) with the views of my host family here, I would say the views are similar. We agree that racial discrimination is an abhorrent abomination upon free society, and acknowledge that at times, certain minorities have had a different experience than the majority population; while none at this house have been an outright target, we recognize that discrimination exists to this day.

Whew, that was an intense tea-time snack I’ll tell you that.

And there you go, another week gone. I’m officially over the hump! Thanks for reading.


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