I'm sure my readers are tired of me writing about France and my French language pursuits. But I can't help it if dreams of France dominate my free time. I recently signed up for a French-English language exchange partner and a French pen pal.
French-English language exchange partner
I met with my language exchange partner last week and I think we will try to meet on a weekly basis from now on. He is from Cameroon and a student in Maryland. He's hoping to improve his English and he is willing to help me with my pronunciation and understanding of the French language and culture. (And yes, I am aware that Cameroon French is not the same as Parisian French or French in the Loire Valley.) The focus was definitely on English during our first meeting—mainly because I still don't know enough vocabulary (especially verb conjugations) to express myself beyond the basics. I hope that future sessions are more evenly split between English and French—but first I need to learn more. I definitely plan on getting him to check my French resume and teaching assistantship essay for grammar errors. And I've already offered to review anything that he writes for school.
French pen pal
During the past two weeks, I've been exchanging emails with a French guy who lives in Paris. We exchange emails almost everyday—half in English and half in French. It has been a great way for me to learn new vocabulary words and also to learn about the life of a Frenchman. Most of our emails are about our lifestyles and our plans for the future. But we have also exchanged our views on hot political topics like retirement reform in France and plans to build a mosque near Ground Zero. I hope to find a Frenchwoman to email next – so that I can get a female's perspective on life in France and of course, her perspective on Frenchmen. And yes, I still get the occasional email from that French guy in Tours. Hopefully, I can remain connected with both guys—make even more friends—to help in my transition. I imagine that it will be easy for me to make English-speaking friends via whatever program I join. But it will be more difficult to make French friends who are willing to help me integrate into French society and avoid the common foreigner/tourist mistakes (like the societal norm on kissing…).
I must admit that I am anxious to move. Blame it on "Hill burnout" and a lack of exercise, but I am walking zombie most days. Most of all, I'm feeling disillusioned and cynical about what happens on the Hill and how much of a difference I can make. The DC bubble seems so toxic these days and I'm just tired of the misinformation, the ignorance, and the spin. Of course, I blame the other side.
Mostly, I need a break from the rat race. February, August, or whatever month next year I mark for my departure can't come soon enough.
So that's my update. I promise that my next post will NOT be about France.