So I have returned from my six month placement in Paris. It was amazing, and I’m very sad about the fact I can no longer see the Pantheon by my side every time I leave the house and the Eiffel Tower whenever I bring myself to cook an actual meal!
In this blog post I wanted to explore some of my expectations that I had before I came to Paris and how they turned out. Who knows, maybe this will help someone who is about to embark on a stay in Paris.
Expectation : Immersion = fluency
If you look back on one of my previous blog posts I talk about some of my hopes and fears before heading off to Paris. The first one covers language, and in it I say “everyone says that immersion is magical.”
Oh, how naive.
Immersion, although an amazing opportunity to improve my French, was not magical. You have to work for it. Even now I cannot believe how naive I was, obviously just being in the country was not going to be enough? Everyday I had to make myself talk and interact in French to improve my language. Reading books, listening to podcasts, watching TV shows and films, there were so many active steps I had to take in order for my French to improve.
Expectation: So many French friends
I full on expected to come back from my stay in Paris with a host of French friends, ready to proof read all my French essays in final year. This did not go as planned.
I definitely blame working for part of my failure. If I’d been studying I would have been exposed to so many French students on an hourly basis, but as it was I barely even came across any French people my age (except, of course, for the sleazy Parisian men in bars who DO NOT GET THE HINT).
Now, I’m of course not saying that it’s a walk in the park for those studying in Paris, I’ve heard it’s still incredibly difficult to cross the acquaintance barrier with Parisian students. It seemed like every person that I met in my six months had come with the intention of making French friends, but were at a big a loss as to how to actually meet any. It remains a mystery.
Expectation: it’ll be shit before it gets better
I expected to find the first few weeks/month of my year abroad really really tough, not knowing the language and having to make a whole new set of friends.
However, I was pleasantly surprised. The first few weeks were so much fun, exploring my new home and living the Parisian life. I think because everything was so new and getting into the work routine was so tiring, I didn’t have a chance to get homesick.
There was only one week in the whole six months when the homesickness started to set in, and that was a random week in October. I think that was down to all of my friends from England going back to University and having all the freshers’ week snapchat stories on my phone everyday.
However, I got through the hump so quickly (with the help of a lot of phone calls to friends/my mum lol) and the rest of the six months went so so quickly.
Overall, the experience was so much more fun and exciting than I expected. I got to do so many amazing things, meet so many wonderful people and generally grow so much as a person.
And you’ll be relieved to hear my French did improve! I can watch films and TV programmes now without any subtitles and can get by fine having conversations with strangers en français !!! 🙂