On the occasion of the European Day of Languages and the Week of foreign cultures, it seemed appropriate to return to our series on exile and elsewhere, and to provide the platform for a young student so she talks about her experience in learning a new language abroad. Hannah Kelly 20, she is a student and editor of Talk, the academic journal of the University of London Institute in Paris. She has agreed to share his thoughts on Paris, the differences between the UK and France, and the French language, which she fell madly in love with a refreshing humour and witty.
As we approach the second anniversary of my move to France, I think back to the beginning of my love affair with the French language - I was five when my parents sent me for the first time in a holiday camp during two weeks, where I learned to communicate (some) and (try to) make myself understood.
This passion for foreign languages continued to school, since I had the opportunity to learn a second language in the classroom - and I decided to learn French, of course. At the time of my choice of university course, there was only one thing that interested me: languages.
It is therefore the desire to know the French language led me to Paris at the age of 18, and I must admit that I was not at all prepared to face the cultural differences between the United Kingdom and France. I grew up in a relatively small city in the north of England, where I knew the majority of people in my neighbourhood. It is a real shock when we moved in a city as big as Paris, and the prospect of easily spend a week without seeing any friend seemed really strange to me at first.
After completing my first year of studies, I started working. I thought I could speak French, but I soon made me realize that I was wrong!
There was first the speed with which people express themselves, which does not correspond at all to the speed with which I understood what they were saying - especially at the end of a 10 hour day! Then there is the common language, the words that I have ever met in my books but want to say simple things like "book", "brother" or "money." And then there was, finally, the fact that a lot of French want to practice their English, which does not bother me at all, but let's say it's not exactly why I came here ...
I was also facing many other cultural impact: apparently you do not drink coffee with the dishes, we do not cuddle when we see our friends in public, and Chardonnay is definitely not the best wine found on the map.
Before coming to settle here, I had not thought to gourmet differences between the UK and France, and yet I should, since I am a vegetarian. It is true that it is sometimes difficult to find a restaurant that can accommodate me. It has often happened to me to explain to the waiter that I do not eat meat, and offer me chicken instead ...
Is the UK I'm missing? Sure, but I do not want to go back. Traditional meals I miss watching football on TV I miss even queuing in England miss ... However, there lots of things I love here - the revolutionary spirit of French (especially in terms of strikes), small shops that rarely exist in England today, the fact that politicians are as famous as singers and actors ... All this helps to replace some memories of the country where I come from.
The decision to move to France was one of the hardest I have ever taken, but it was also one of the best. I have since had incredible opportunities in Paris - I had the honour to work at Fashion Week in Paris, I met singers after their intimate concerts in tiny places, and if I dare say, I had the chance to become (almost) bilingual.
Paris Oh, how I love you!