Easy Street? No thanks, Miss Hannigan.

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We started our first day of classes on July 4th, hello good omen. I haven’t been so nervous and excited to start school since my first day of school ever. New system, different setting, the language barrier that I pretended wasn’t there ; it was overwhelming but I was more than psyched about the whole thing. I’m happy to report that my classes are at 10:30am, to my eternal happiness. It was either that or 8:30am, let’s just say I’m grateful. On the bright side, if you happen to get a class that starts at 8:30 you’ll have plenty of time to have a three hour lunch, visit the sights, and maybe even sneak in a nap. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what time your classes are, you’re in Paris!  I’m so eager to soak up as much as I possibly can during our classes no matter how tired I am from an epic night by the Seine. At the least, I’ll be able to use something I learned in class to order myself a wonderful lunch. At the most, I’ll be able to have a conversation with a perfect stranger without them realizing I’m from the US. I don’t know about you but I like both outcomes, one gets me fed the other feeds my ego.

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The instructor for our Practique course is everything and nothing I expected. The same goes for the course itself. Before going to class, the preconceived notions gear in my brain was completely turned up.  I had an idea that our professor would be chic, that part I was right about. She has an effortless poise that I’ve observed a lot of French people possess. I have no idea why but they just get it, whatever “it” is.  For some reason I thought our professor would speak English and that we would be eased into the class, but to my surprise the whole class was taught in French from beginning to end. My outlook was completely wrong, of course the class would be taught in French, we are in France! I guess I had no idea what was waiting for me on the other side of the globe. Hearing nothing but French will definitely help me with oral comprehension and I’m so glad. Finally, I’ll be able to understand what French people are saying rather than just nodding through phrases that sound more like one really long word.  Speaking of speaking, we also started Phonetics class which will help with pronunciations since speaking and reading French requires a substantial amount of liaisons and accents. A bonus of this class is that if you look out of the back window, Notre Dame de Paris is directly across from you. While learning  to properly pronounce words, I can look over my shoulder and see an eight hundred and fifty year old church, I can’t say this bothers me.

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I’m hoping that these classes will help perfect my French and put me one step closer to having an authentic conversation with a native French speaker. Who knows, maybe I’ll even meet them at Notre-Dame when I go sooner or later. I’ll admit that when we first started our classes I was worried about whether I’d be able to keep up, I’ve only taken one French class at main campus prior to coming here.  I’m now immersed in French and I’m doing better than I thought. Yes, it’s tough but nobody said it would be effortless.  I’m not walking on easy street being in this program but therein lies the challenge and future triumph of this experience. Just to give you an idea of how well I’m retaining the language, I typed in ‘triomphe’ in the previous sentence as opposed to the English spelling! Well, I’m pretty sure I have some verbs to conjugate, until next time. Au revoir!

-Stephanie Dalce

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