Bonjour from Nantes


After spending 10 days in the south of France, I'm finally "home" and settled in with my host family at Nantes. Between driving 10 hours yesterday; tackling mobile phone policies in French this morning; and moving in with my host family tonight, I'm just about falling asleep typing this. This may be thoughtful, or it may just be half-asleep. Bear with me? Let's do it quick and dirty, (because we can).

I stumbled into the study abroad center building in Nantes around 4:30 this afternoon and started to feel a touch of nervousness bubbling up. It's not a feeling that comes around often. I'm generally sure-footed, trusting myself enough to know that I can figure it out.

But that's in English. French is a completely different ballgame. Words in French sweep into one another, like a blindingly fast sing-song. I can usually catch words and phrases for near certain, but there are some lost in translation. I know this worry is part of the experience - the growing pains in learning a language - but I wouldn't dare tell anyone that uncertainty is comfortable.

I've begun to realize that the ability to use language, and use it well, is one of my most unconscious advantages. In the States, I'm able to explain, to understand, to respond, to persuade, to charm. But here, much of that advantage is lost. I can convey fact and opinion in French, but persuasion and charm are still locked culture and colloquialisms. It's a beast to tackle, but I suppose that's the challenge.

Day 2 tomorrow. Formal orientation begins, and I meet the rest of the students in my study abroad program.