Now Erasmus keeps on throwing up treats, with a week to spare and having vaguely remembered there was funding grants available for courses in French anywhere in the world, I leapt upon the opportunity and three days later I found myself in the city of love. Alas for me this wasn’t a trip of romance, but was to be a real eye opener to the task that awaits me in the form of over 6000 verbs in the French language with various endings for different situations.
I arrived into the underbelly of Paris tired and underwhelmed having spent 7 hours on a budget Eurolines coach, one of the luxuries of the student lifestyle. I navigated the authentic metro to find my pleasant and neatly placed hostel. The excitement of being in a new city kept my legs moving and a short wander turned into a sightseeing adventure, with architectural interests round every corner making the mystery of what lay ahead too hard to resist.
The next morning 7am (urg!) the student in me thought definitely not!! Still I found myself making it to the Grand Boulevard French School. As I walked in the “first day of school” feeling brushed over me, everyone talking nervously and teachers flapping about the place shouting. The very informal exam paper landed in front of me without a word, struggling to remember that GCSE French I placed pen to paper, while chatting, not one Brit but all speaking perfect English. A teacher in an attempt to ease everyone’s nerves started a game between us all while the classes were arranged; he chose charades with different cities. I got Rome, which went okay, but the person after me instantly did a Nazi salute. Everyone fell silent too embarrassed to answer, before the German boy clearly in pain muttered Berlin, the mood recovered quickly.
We walked in late, Raffel was in mid flow, with his Parisian enthusiasm for French bouncing about the class. At first I thought I was definitely in the wrong class, yet after a while I realised instead of the others speaking Franglais, they were just combining their own language with French, and I gradually gained my confidence. The classes went well, with a different teacher and very small class in the afternoon, I met people from over 20 countries, from Mexico, Switzerland, Japan and eventually I even bumped into a Scot. It was a very good school however and I chose the most intense course from 9 till 6.30 everyday which was too much and didn’t help after a while with concentration lapses. I think it would be far wiser to have spent more weeks there doing less courses and experience Parisian culture more.
In the evenings I would either do things with people I met in the hostel or even meet up with a friend’s friend who worked there and showed me a quirky side of Paris with a jazz and poetry bar. The experience of Paris really made me value the place and the language greatly and gave me a real desire to work hard to prove my French teacher wrong!!!!