Before I even arrived here I came to the conclusion that you can make anything sound more difficult by adding ‘in France’ or ‘in French’ to sentence. For example, ‘I have a two hour lecture today’, becomes, ‘I have a two hour lecture today, in French’. Try adding it at the end of sentences when talking about everyday tasks and you find you actually wince a bit at the thought of the massively increased difficulty. Of course, as time has gone on here I have found it slightly easier each time to complete tasks ‘in French’ or ‘in France’. However I would still say that if you have something particularly odious to do, the thought of doing it ‘in French’ can send you running for the hills (but you would have to run for the hills ‘in France’, which would also be much more difficult, I imagine).
Thus my panic was at least treble what it might have otherwise been, when, on Sunday evening I discovered my purse was missing. When I say ‘my purse’, I really mean, ‘my life’. Being the genius that I am, I had not only managed to lose it in France, but on the other side of France from Strasbourg whilst on a visit to some friends. To complete the series of unfortunate events, I discovered it was missing just before bed. So in my unhappy state, I ending up going to the cinema where I thought I’d lost it at midnight, half-dressed in pyjamas.
En route I began pondering what I would have to do if my purse was lost forever. How do you cancel a card in France? Would I have to phone the police? What would I say? What was the word for ‘purse’ in French? How did I get a new university card in France? How would I get one for Edinburgh and would it be one of the stupid new blue ones?
Thankfully events became very fortunate indeed when, after searching throughout the cinema with a very sympathetic security guard, my friend found my purse (who was, incidentally, brilliant at dealing with the whole situation). So the audience of Ides of March (clearly a discerning crowd) were treated to the site of an English girl dressed in tracksuit bottoms, a hoodie which says ‘I [heart] Paris’, pink bed socks and fluffy boots (I was about to go to bed, don’t judge me) jumping up and down, kissing a purse and hugging her friend. I have never been one for subtlety.
I think it’s clear I was entirely stupid about the whole thing. If I’m honest, I tend to over-worry a bit in life anyway. It is true however, that minor situations do tend to seem a whole lot worse when you’re abroad. On the other hand, that also means that everyday situations can turn into a triumph. I almost had a party when I successfully bought some stamps (to be fair, that included buying one to send something to America). In the quest for my purse I successfully managed to convey my worry to the security guard. Generally, although you might feel a bit knackered after dealing with any given situation here, I tend to find I feel slightly boosted by the success of using my language skills to the full. The more daunting the situation, the greater the elation at tackling it successfully; even after only a few months here, I’d say I feel more confident dealing with most things. So despite my horror at losing my purse, it’s yet another experience here that may have made me a slightly more capable human being.