Maybe it is the weather. The drizzling rain, the cloudy days, and the countless gray buildings that look more alive in the summer instead of in the cold wind. Maybe it is because this weather does not let me go out and enjoy the streets of Paris like I did when I first arrived here and I feel inclosed. Or maybe, it is something completely, utterly different.
I’ve been on edge all weekend. Biting my nails (a nervous habit), annoyed at every small detail that I typically just let fly by. I know I am a pretty relaxed person and love last minute ideas and occasions that pop up. This weekend, I was not having any of it. I felt somewhat disconnected from everything and I did not know why until I texted my mom on the metro last night on my way to a party. I was on my way to a party and somehow, I felt alone.
It was that French lecture I went to last weekend. I had left those doors feeling so inspired that this week, I found a cafe I absolutely adore (each wall is filled with books from corner to corner) and had really started to pound away at my French studies and start reading a French book (typically I just read a few articles from the daily newspaper). I had understood more than I thought I would have at that lecture, which made me so happy to know that I am farther along in the language than I give myself credit for. At the cafe, I started eavesdropping on conversations and I understood. When I speak in French, people ask me where I am from because my accent is a mix between American and Spanish… so they’ve never heard that before. When I have five minutes where I speak to a complete stranger who happens to be a native, they smile and tell me that my French is really good for the time that I have been here. I know it is sincere because they keep the conversation going in French and do not try changing to English like they did before.
I think I am really annoyed at the fact that I want to use the language but I only use a limited amount a day… like ordering food or buying groceries, I texted my mom.
Completely normal. It is because you are at a point that you can communicate but can’t use it and it is aggravating, she replied back, making me feel better because out of everyone in the world, she would be the one to understand. She is the one that moved to America without any English experience and now speaks it.
It is frustrating to be sitting here in a foreign country, with a goal in mind and feeling like it is not being met. It is aggravating to feel like I can understand everything that is going on around me but I can’t speak the language because… well, I never use it in my daily life. La petite fille talks to me in French but I am supposed to speak to her in English (sometimes I throw in some Spanish) so she learns the language. She is my little dictionary. Sometimes we will be walking down the street and I hear a word I do not recognize and I ask her to explain it to me. When she does explain, it is in French. I read the newspaper and just started a book in French. I understood the first chapter and started a vocabulary list of words I did not recognize. The only time I use French completely is in class, but those are French grammar classes and who loves to sit for two hours straight taking in conjugations, subjunctives and so forth?
In Spanish, the word we use to describe the emotions I am going through is un bajón. The word just means feeling low due to something specific and is a phase. I know these emotions will soon come to pass, but I just simply want to speak the language. No English. No Spanish. Just French. That is what I have to look forward to, the day the language will seem to just slip off my tongue so easily. Right now, I am just trying to take the baby steps. I have to be proud of the little accomplishments.
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