Thursday, January 12, 2006

Good Chinese food in France?

A few nights ago, I took the bus to Darin's office. I spaced out when the bus came to my stop so I had to "communicate" with the driver to figure out if I was at the right place or not. First, I thought I asked him if we were at the end, but Darin thinks I said the French word for "fine". Then, I think the driver asked if I knew the name of the company that I'm looking for and I pointed towards Darin's office and said, "mon mari" (my husband) and then quickly jumped off the bus and walked away. I think it went decently because he didn't laugh at me or at least I didn't hear or see him laugh at me. This has been my clue to know if I'm speaking well (for a beginner) or absolutely terrible. At night when I'm doing homework and Darin's watching TV or on the computer, I'll try to pronounce what I wrote in my notes that day. I can tell when I'm making no sense at all when he either looks at me with a quizzical look on his face that says "What the hell just came out of your mouth?" or when he starts to snicker at me. Is that loving support or what? I think he enjoys hearing me speak French with a "Spanifornia" accent.

Yesterday I dined with some schoolmates at a Chinese restaurant. Despite Darin warning me that Chinese and Mexican food were terrible in France, the hot pot dish I ordered was quite tasty. The prawns were as long as the end of my middle finger to the line that divides my palm from my wrist...quite huge. No fortune cookies...that was a disappointment.

On Wednesday, the "end of the season" sales (les soldes) began in every store in this country. My friend and I decided to check out the sales, but by the 3rd store...I was done. It appeared as if every single resident of Annecy was out shopping that day and will be for the next few weeks as the sales continue. The stores were packed, the lines for the dressing rooms were long, and I was tired of saying "pardon" to people after my backpack bumped them. My friend and I decided to take a break and enjoy a first one in France. As soon as we walked into the restaurant, the host began speaking to us in English. This surprised me because I swear we weren't speaking at all when we arrived. We decided to make this a learning opportunity by learning "crepe vocabulary". We whipped out our notebooks and dictionaries and wrote down words on the French menu that were new to us. The host spotted us doing this and immediately ran over with menus in English. But that's cheating!

This week we had a new student join our group. He's from Brazil. During a break, I started to speak to him in English and before he could say anything back to me, someone interrupted and said, "Emily, he can't speak English...oh, but he can speak Spanish!", he can't speak Spanish...he speaks Portuguese. So we tried to communicate in French/'s better than just smiling at each other and looking stupid...

I feel I'm starting to get a better feel for the language. After class tonight, a classmate approached me and said that he has noticed how much more I understand than I did during the first few days of class. I feel it's as if I needed to turn a knob in my head that would allow me to start grasping French. If only I can miraculously be able to speak so others can understand a Darin can.

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