Two months have already passed for my exchange in Caen, and I really wish time would go by slower, much slower. Quite a big contrast compare to the first few weeks here, I was rather disappointed at not be able to connect with the locals, as most of the French don’t speak a whole lot of English. It got to a point that I regret not learning French when I was younger, and I have only myself to blame.
The group of volunteer students who organizes events for incoming exchange students, Global Village, has been encouraging us to party with them or go on day trips with them. Honestly, that’s the closest encounter most of us exchange students are getting with the locals. Some of the exchange students are quite fluent in French, yet they are still complaining about the lack of love from the locals on a daily basis.
More weeks have past, and I’m adapting to this city quite well as I’m exploring new places, discovering new bars to go to, and, best of all, people to hang out with. It took a little time to finally accept most people don’t speak English, but I wasn’t going to give up easily in meeting new people on a rare opportunity such as this exchange program. We still go out and about as a group (of exchange students) when we have free time, and it seems the less people we have, the better our chance of meeting new French friends. About a month and half into the exchange, I met some locals who are studying international languages at a local university. They explained to me the reason behind the lack of hospitality from most French. English isn’t a mandatory language for them, and even the better English-speakers get rather intimidated by large group of foreign language speakers. She described French as reserved and shy, and that includes the younger generations.
Unfortunately though, my oral skills in French have not improved in any way since I got here or after I met some new French friends. It is such a complex language and the pronunciation is IMPOSSIBLE! Despite my lack of verbal skills in this language, I’m doing quite well in reading and getting by on daily routines. So I’m still giving myself a pat on the back for that.
I’m not looking forward to the day of my departure, as it’s such an amazing experience to struggle in a foreign land, meeting interesting personalities, and exploring incredible landscapes.
Dear France, I will be back.