Early-Morning French

It happened. I should have been better prepared, I know; I should have spent a full week stressing over obstruants and fricatives like a good third-year, I should have made posters- so very many colourful posters. I really should have checked what percentage it was worth before deciding not to mind that much. But most of all, I should not have had the extra half-hour in bed.
But I did, and now my first French exam is over. On your Erasmus year you may find yourself worrying far more about what to wear next weekend than about academia, but every now and then standardised testing raises its ugly head. Worth less than half of my grade for one of five courses in this semester, it doesn’t mean all that much in the grand full-year scale of things, but by golly did it feel embetant to come puffing through the door a good fifteen minutes late.
But with the subtlety and casualness that makes all French people seem incredibly self-assured, my prof gestured to the one remaining seat and wandered over with my exam sheets and left me to it.
What followed should have been easy, but every time I eked out an answer in fumbled early-morning pre-coffee French I could see already the harsh lines of a red pen crossing out anything and everything it could. Because though you may be the boss of all things linguistic, or historical, or biological, when it’s in your native tongue, trying to be le patron can be trickier than you expect. yes, you’ve had all these lessons in French and you’ve been writing down vocabulary in that cute little notepad for a good three months now, but how much of it can you produce under exam conditions?
My advice, if any, would be to go for subjects whose terminology is latin-based, or within which most of the research is done in your own language. Thus I found myself writing about ‘la regle de t/d flapping Canadien‘, and just about making sense. Maybe.
This whole language-barrier thing can make exams seem like the scariest thing in the universe multiplied by cinq, but if you think about it, it could be an even better way to prove yourself. Not only are you le patron de linguistique, not only have you set up a bank account, a phone, and established yourself as a local in the nearest bar / cafe to halls, but now you’re acing exams in another language? Go you, mademoiselle / monsieur, allez.
Although you did end up sitting on that bus for far too long and had to run half-way to said exam, so that might hurt your chances just a teeny weeny bit.

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