Weeks 1 and 2

Bonjour from Tours! I am writing this in my bedroom in my host family’s house, a farm-style home about a mile west of the campus of the Institute of Touraine. I arrived a week ago yesterday, and the time has gone shockingly quickly so far. In the last eight days, I have met people from five continents, eaten countless new dishes, and learned more new French words than I thought possible.


Prior to coming, I was very nervous about my host family and about the other students at the Institute, but very quickly, I realized that I had no reason to be anxious. The other students have quickly become my friends, and my host mother, Marie, could not be more welcoming. She is a middle-aged woman with grown children who has been hosting students from all over for many years. Every night, she makes me a new French dish and last night she took me to the movie theatre to see a French film.


Over the weekend, Marie’s son came over for dinner and brought his son Louis who is in high school. Listening to the family speak to each other was a very humbling experience, as they are able to speak very quickly to one another and use slang with which I am not familiar. Louis in particular was very difficult to understand and there were many moments throughout the night when Marie had to act as a translator so that I could fully understand.


One term that Louis used throughout the evening was ouf,which Marie explained was an inversion of the French word fou, which means crazy. The two words share the same meaning but ouf is used primarily by young people and has a more informal connotation.


An expression that I heard first in my classes was C’est top! In the movie that we saw last night, I heard this expression numerous times. Marie used it this morning at breakfast after checking the forecast for the day, so I asked her about it. She told me that it simply means that something is the best, and that it is an expression that is popular among all age groups.


The local expressions make it more difficult to learn French, as there are so many  left to learn, but they also make it much more rewarding and interesting.