One month in: Some reflections

Have you wondered what it's like to live in France? Today is the last day of my intensive French classes, so I figured I'd share some wisdom before I disappear for a week.

On learning French

As rumor has it, most Frenchmen are very reluctant to speak English. This has been good, because mostly they won't switch to English if you speak French to them.

On the first day of classes, I remember having to concentrate very hard to understand what the teacher was saying, whereas now this is fairly automatic. So I've really gotten used to hearing French a lot every day, as well as brushing off my dusty grammar and learning tons of knew words.

In conversation, I still don't know a bunch of the words I'd like to use. This is really frustrating at times, but one thing I've gotten better at is explaining around words I don't know. I can understand most of what people say to me. The test of this was when I went to visit an apartment (that I didn't get, different story) and spoke French with a girl my age for over an hour. I came out of the visit elated - she spoke really fast, and didn't seem to mind my slow French.

The big challenge remains to become truly articulate, but I believe that will come when I have classes all day in French and meet more French students.

On the weather

Having lived in Norway for 10 years, I can talk about the weather almost endlessly. Suffice to say that it has been EXTREMELY hot here for the last month. It's also only rained twice, which I find beyond comprehension. If it doesn't cool down soon I may drown in a pool of my own sweat...

On the food

The food in France is better. Period. Coming from Norway, the produce is incredible. I think I eat a lot more vegetables here, because I can basically live on eggplant and salads. The French also can't make 'normal' bread, although baguettes are amazing. The only irritating thing about baguettes is that they get stale really quickly.

I'm also really warming up to French cheese. I don't eat a lot of cheese normally, but not eating cheese would be blasphemous. My personal favorite is Boursin, a spreadable herb cheese. Can you say 'garlic on everything'?

On Grenoble

I am absolutely in love with Grenoble. As some of you might have guessed, this is mostly because of its proximity to the mountains. It's also a very charming city with lots of culture, although it has been rather dead for the past month because everyone is on vacation for the month of vacation.

I've found the University rather unhelpful; I think they all must be on vacation to. I expect things to liven up as school starts. Maybe professors will start answering my emails then?

Anything else you want to know?

- The Wild Bazilchuk