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Journals from AUCP, Aix-en-Provence

2013-10-27 What happens when you begin to think French?

As midterms, a visit from my mother, and fall approach, a new sense of the French language has appeared. I noticed it one day when I was walking down the street trying to catch my bus home: I was talking to myself. In French. It was the weirdest thing. I mean… Okay. I don’t really know how to explain everything, but I am going to attempt to describe it:

Imagine a 5’3 blonde practically running down the street with a (what I can only assume) very determined face. All of a sudden she stops dead in her tracks and looks extremely confused. She stands on the corner of the street for about ten seconds trying to understand what had happened in her brain, looking absolutely flabbergasted. Turns out, I had had a running dialogue in my head of what I needed to do that day (starting with NOT missing the bus) in French. Then another thing happened: I got really excited. I can only assume I looked nearly insane. But, at that point, I was so excited that I continued sprint-walking (my nickname for walking as fast as you can possibly walk without running) down the street, made it to the bus, and went home to tell my host mom. She laughed a little and told me that I had definitely improved, but I realized something even more mind-blowing the next day.

Before class began, I told my Provencal Literature professor what had happened. She looked at me with a giant smile, and explained to me that this was an immense step in the progress of learning a new language. As the other students starting filtering into the classroom, they joined our conversation. One of my good friends looked at me and nodded her head in vicious agreement when I had told her I was beginning to think in French. All of us had also noticed that, when we don’t know a certain vocabulary word in French during a conversation, we tend to say the entire sentence in French and make up some kind of word that sounds French to fill in the blank. When this happens we get looked at funny, of course, but apparently it is good! Not to mention our French friends seem to find it absolutely hilarious. But, to state my mind-blowing revelation: I think I am finally absorbing the language and culture and beginning to feel natural in this place. And I think that is really cool. It is becoming much easier for me now and yes, there are still ups and downs, but I don’t feel like such an outsider anymore.

So that is my really exciting news for now. Oh! Also, my mom is going to come visit me for a few days this next week, and I am super excited. That is all I have to report for now,

À prochain,

Abigail Meckem

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