As most of my French friends know, I don’t read or write very well in French. Granted my classes at school are in English so the main way I “improve” my literacy skills is through texting… Though I know that I don’t read or write very well, I assumed that as time went on my literacy was getting better and better. What I didn’t realize though, is that my friends are just too nice to correct me mover text. In the few months I’ve been here though there have been a handful of moments that have made me realize how bad my literacy in French is.
The first story actually occurred my first week of school. Me and a group of friends I had just met had a plan to hang out at the beach for a little while before going somewhere else. So, curious I asked if I should bring my bathing suit because I didn’t know where we were going afterwards and if they were planning on swimming. Well first of all, let me just say that bathing suit in French is “maillot de bain”. But me being that American chick who doesn’t know any better spelled it “mayo” in the group chat with all my friends. So pretty much I called a bathing suit mayonnaise… I still don’t really know why that’s that crazy but it became a joke that was said for months.
Another story is when I went to get waxed. First of all, I made my waxing appointment through email. I found this salon in town online that did waxing and had good reviews but it was past closing time so I just thought, why not send an email? So I got an email back saying that 4pm on Friday would work. When I got there on Friday, I was surprised that the only person working there was a man and he would be doing the waxing. I was a little nervous considering I was about to get waxed by a 40-year old man. But I had my taser with me so I felt like I was good to go. Turns out the guy was super nice and not creepy at all so it was all good. He talked to me throughout and at one point he mentioned that I was the first person to ever schedule an appointment over email. I didn’t really know what to respond other than, “oh wow interesting”… But he continued on to say that he thought my email was a HACKER because my french had so many mistakes! He told me that he was even worried about responding because he thought that it was a virus. I was so embarrassed! This was actually last week… So yea, clearly it’s been about 4 months and my written French is still weak.
Recently, I just started talking to a guy on Snapchat. Obviously it means nothing it’s just friendly with a touch of flirty if you know what I mean. But anyways, not knowing how to write in French makes it extremely difficult to flirt back. Generally, he will ask me a question or say something and I have no idea what he wrote. So I’m forced to write back with, “j’ai pas compris” (“I don’t understand”). It’s so sad every time that happens because it just totally cuts the flow of the Snap convo and just put a bummer on the mood. I’m telling you it’s such a shame.
The last and probably one of the hardest things is the class group chat. My class is not very big, there’s about 40 of us. So granted we made a Facebook chat with everyone in it where we generally just ask what room our next class is in or for help with homework or what not. But occasionally, someone will say something funny or I guess really useful and the group chat will just BLOW UP. I mean seriously someone is probably typing something in the chat every second. That’s when I lose track. I even muted the group chat (sorry classmates) because it’s just so hard to understand that my brain get’s tired trying to keep up with reading all of the messages that come through. While it’s sad that I sometimes don’t understand inside jokes that begin in the chat, it’s a risk that I’m willing to take. My classmates don’t really mind my absence either. But the worst part is when someone says something really important that I just happened to have forgotten. Such as,”Hey guys don’t forget about the Economics test tomorrow!” (Random classmate). Then I am the only one that comes to class like, “Oh shit we have a test!!” because I didn’t read the chat…
The point of these stories is that while being in France has definitely helped make me fluent while speaking in French, I haven’t gotten the literacy down yet. I think it will take a bit longer to get that down. Yesterday I went to my first French class of the semester and this is what my grammar page looked like after it was graded.
It’s only the beginning though, I’ll get better with time and practice. Though I’m sure there will be many more stories like these before then.