Well my friends, I have signed up for Italian conversation class at the local continuing education department at UTA.
I studied one language growing up. French. Oui. And NONS! Not the best idea. Not in Oklahoma & sure not for Texas! But I took it four years total. The last two were independent study. I even got to visit France for a month when I was 16. Oui! Oui! Oui!
How that came about was my mom & dad hosted a exchange student from France named Fabienne. She stayed with us a month in the summer. We had a blast! She was great. She was my same age and so very cute & hip. She had an adorable accent. She actually did wear a bathing suit top & shaved her underarms & legs & bathed regularly(ha). I thought she adapted to America very well.
So in turn , I travelled to France over Christmas break. Off to Paris I went. Fresh from the country to a foreign country. I knew my French was going to get lots of practice. This was my Christmas present from my step dad. How awesome is that???
Paris was beautiful. I saw the Arc de Triomphe first. What a sight that was and all along the Champs Elysees. *sidenote* As a Mom now I wonder how in the WORLD did my parents let me go to another country completely alone at 16?????*end sidenote*
Everything was soooo different! They had McDonald’s yes but it was not like OUR McDonald’s & the sodas (or cokes as I call em) no ice.
Nothing tasted the same at all. Everyone drank (but didn’t get drunk mind you) & smoked & did not bathe for two weeks or a month or more(but wore lots of perfume haha). Clothes were washed once a month. Food was waaaay different. Lamb guts & stuff like that. I even saw the Dad eat the brain of a Rabbit! Grossness! I did like the smoked salmon & the pate which obviously we didn’t have in Oklahoma. (haha)
Right after I got there, we travelled by car to Briancon which is a little ski town in France right on the border of Italy in the Alps. Most of her family lived there. That is where we went to celebrate Christmas & New Years. The accent was different & I couldn’t understand their French there at all. I also could not translate my skiing ability nor my ski or shoe size. Soooo I ended up with super long skis & took many tumbles on the Alps until frustrated & mad bit of my gloves in a huff about to walk off the dang mountain.
Needless to say her Dad took me by ski lift back to the lodge. (ha) *sidenote again* Wish I could have really soaked in & appreciated the beauty of the Alps*end sidenote* But the ski town was great! I actually got to meet & hang out with Luc Alphone the downhill ski champion of France & many years later would see him on TV in the Olympics. Wow!
Good news is by the end of the two weeks in Briancon I *finally* got their accent & could understand their french. Of course at this point we are heading back to Paris via train. Now it’s time for school to start & the plan was for me to go to school with Fabienne. I actually got an exchange student exemption from my classes in the states. But the only thing I was going to understand was English right? Actually their English is an England English, yah, didn’t understand THAT either. HA.
School was not that fun. Fabienne would put me as the look out in the bathroom so her & her friends could smoke. I had to look out for teachers & yell out if I saw one (like THAT wouldn’t get me in trouble). But lunch was way fun! They would get two hours & we’d go to the pub & they’d teach me swear words in French then laugh hysterically when I’d repeat them (still not sure WHAT they were teaching me to say). Fabienne was not happy with me most of the time & made it known often. For one, I bathed every day. For two, I had my clothes washed every day. She kept telling me I was in France & needed to be like the French. Ewww!
I didn’t understand the French & they insisted Americains were selfish. It was always pronounced with distaste and a sneer. I certainly knew when they were talking about the stupide Americain. Speaking French was difficult for me, I was mainly taught to read & write it but not much practice speaking out loud & saying the words right. I could speak it slowly to them & they would speak English back to me. Somehow that cryptic conversation worked just fine. Everyone in school was required to take English although very few could actually speak it legibly. One of the boy students said he LOVED me. Uhhhhh ,,,,no you mean LIKE. (yikes)
Anyhow things came to a boiling point with Fabienne & I ended up going to Orleans (where Joan of Arc was from) and stayed with an American family that was there from my hometown in Oklahoma for a year. The Mom, Dad & three boys. The middle boy was my age & we were good friends. OHMYGOSH, what FUN we had. Just joking around about all things French. Talking about everything in America we missed. Laughing & laughing & laughing. I will never forget that. It was absolutely the best time I had in France. I sent a big BOX of stuff from the US when I got back of all the things we talked about missing the most. (mayo, PB & J, Reeses) *sidenote* I found my friend on facebook two days ago, the joy!*end sidenote*
Things I learned on this trip. The French are very rude & they stink! It’s a lot better to visit France with Americans. The Eiffel Tower is incredible & majestic (wish I would have gone to the top). I could sit & stare at it forever because it doesn’t seem real. How to smoke & drink.(at age 16!)
As for Italian, I can’t wait to learn it. I am not at all obsessed like Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Love & Pray with the Italian words. It’s more of a heritage thing for me. My Papa came from Italy & often spoke Italian to me as a child. He died when I was sixteen. I would have loved to have known him more. Maybe this is a way to do that with the language. I have always said he is my guardian Angel. Besides that, I plan on visiting Europe again & who knows maybe this time it will be Italy! (travel agent discounts! ohhhh yaaaah)