My goals were to build better comprehension skills and improve my speed and coherency. I also wanted to better understand French culture and interact with many locals and students. I can confidently say that I was able to work on all of my goals! Although I still make mistakes when speaking in French, my speed of speaking and my level of comprehension has skyrocketed. This makes me so happy because there have been times when I doubted I would actually be able to master another language, but each day here has helped me overcome these doubts and work on my goals. I spent most of my time speaking with students, learning from them and discussing the different cultures we come from. In addition to interacting with locals, I also met people from all over the world, including places like Vienna, Italy, Morocco, Ivory Coast, and Tahiti!
Adapting to French culture was difficult at first because they are not as openly emotional as Americans. In America, people will hug you, smile at you, frequently ask how you are doing and if you need anything. French culture also values these traits of friendship, but their methods of expressing it are very different. A simple high-five can equal the American equivalent of a greeting hug, and a nod or raise of eyebrow is a smaller means of acknowledgement that Americans would replace with small talk about their day. At first, I thought the others were not interested in getting to know me, but then I learned that they weren’t being cold, that was simply how they acknowledged others. Personally, I prefer the American way of interacting with others, but perhaps that’s because that’s what I’m accustomed to.
Overall this internship was an amazing experience that allowed me to interact with people from all backgrounds and from all corners of the world. My French improved tremendously, and I had direct insight on a new culture. Living alone helped me develop my independence and I’m excited to bring my new skills back home.