After Tours

I set my goals high, and I’m not sure I met them. I have yet to take the language placement test to see if I can take Advanced French this semester. I can certainly read, write, and speak better. I solidified the French I’ve learned thus far to the point that vocabulary tends to be the only reading obstacle, and I can discuss films and literature at a higher level than before. The disparity between my initial goals and where I’m at lies in a lack of fluidity. I don’t speak, read, or write as fast as I’d like to. Luckily, that’s the sort of thing that just takes practice.

I learned more than language, and more than culture. French culture differs from American, but not enough to make the country feel alien. I adjusted fairly quickly to the pace of life and to the cultural expectation that everyone should be able to contribute to conversation. More consequentially, I internalized my national identity and felt more globally aware to a surprising degree. To international students, I represented both myself and the US. Rather than the futility I sometimes feel at being only one person in a world with endless complications, my actions seemed important. My sense of responsibility to the world was revitalized. Earning the grant in the first place was an accomplishment in my eyes, but the sense of confidence that traveling abroad affords was a still larger reward.

This experience acts as an excellent springboard. I will continue to study French this semester and of course during my Spring semester in Paris, so the immediate future of my French studies is secured and promising. The possibility of living in a francophone country grows more likely. Ideally, I’ll work as a traveling writer of some kind. With the continued study of French and the passion it inspires to learn about other cultures and languages, I set myself up to be more valuable in that field. My family just moved to Germany, meaning I’ll see a lot of Europe over the next few years. Learning French, picking up some basic German, I’ll nourish what this experience kindled in me.