I hopped off the plane at the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport on August 25th, 2017.
Time flies, and it has been eight months that I’ve lived in this country that I now call home.
These days I’ve been receiving lots of compliments from my fellow classmates and a few teachers on my progress in French. Out of nowhere a friend would pop up beside me and chat a little about the huge difference of my level between then and now. “You’ve improved so much! I remember how when you first got here you spoke a lot in English.”
Coming to think of it, it was pretty funny. I can’t even imagine talking to my friends in English, holding conversations in French just seems so normal to me. I no longer have to think about what to say and then make sure my mind-translation was right anymore. Everything just comes naturally.
On Friday, I even gave a presentation introducing the Taiwanese education system to my classmates under the request of my homeroom teacher. I tried to explain everything in detail, some classmates asked questions and I did my best to answer them all. A few times I said things that made them laugh, and I was glad that my sense of humor was beginning to excel even in French. To my very own surprise, I managed to talk almost non-stop for the entire hour, and the bell rang exactly when I ended my last sentence – “On dit <étudiants d’échanges>, mais c’est pas vraiment un échange des étudiants, c’est plutôt un échange de la langue, la culture, et la vie.”
(We say “exchange students”, but it is not really an exchange of students, it is rather an exchange of language, culture, and life.) [and here’s where I should give credits to the public speech training I’ve been receiving over the past three years]
People applaud me and tell me I did a great job. The truth is that it is thanks to them that I’ve become so merged into this environment. I cannot even begin to describe how lucky I feel to be surrounded by such open-minded and helpful people. I thank them for their patience while talking to me eight months earlier. I thank them for accepting me and not treating me like a bypasser even if I come and go within only ten month’s time. I thank my host family for loving me like one of their own.
Probably the most hilarious thing is how I use French slang so often that even my French friends are surprised. I’d utter something without even thinking about it first and everyone around me bursts out laughing. But what can I say? I learned from the best.
“Tu es presqu’une française maintenant,” a classmate once said to me. (You’re almost a French girl now)
I don’t ever want to leave.