See you later, France

OMG – I can’t believe I’ve been in France for nearly 6 months. The first 5 flew by, but because I had no classes and no trips planned, May itself seemed like another 6 months. With homesickness kicking in, I was determined to keep myself busy. So, I spent my last weeks studying for my big exam and having last hurrahs with friends and family.

So, this exam – the DELF – diplôme d’études en langue française. I was going for Level B1, which indicates I am “an independent user of the French language.” The certification is internationally recognized and never expires.  Over 2 days, I would be evaluated on oral/written comprehension and oral/written expression.  The first day would be my individual evaluation where I would have to talk for about 15 minutes on various topics of the examiners choosing. It doesn’t sound difficult, but when your language abilities are limited, it is quite a challenge. Fortunately, I think I did good. Then the 2nd day consisted of oral/writing comprehension and writing expression. Again, I think I did well, but ran short on time considering there was only about 2 hours to write an essay, read 2 articles, listen to 3 texts and answer about 25 questions.

Regardless of the results, I am extremely happy with my level of french. I was quite naive to think I would come to France and leave in a fluent state 6 months later. This process has only made me realize that it will be a life long process. However, I can speak and understand well enough to get by independently. Goal achieved.

Once my exam was out of the way, it was time to bid farewell to my classmates, friends and family.  I spent my last two days in France with the American gals in my program. They were all staying a bit longer but were heading off to other places in Europe and this was the last time we would all be in the same city. So, the day of the exam, we had a cheese party in the park to celebrate the official end to learning in France. We ate and drank wonderful wine and cheese until they kicked us out of the park at sundown. Then the next day, we pretty much did the same thing along the Loire River. It was a fun time and a great farewell to them and France:

Wine & cheese party… “A girl should be two things – classy and fabulous” – Coco Chanel

Our last day on the Loire together. From left, Madeline (Clarkston, Michigan), Angela (Hawaii), Me, and Katie (Rochester, Michigan)

The end of the year party at school was in the beginning of May.  My group at the University was really nice and I am extremely grateful to them for making me feel so welcome. Most of them began in September and had a much higher level of french. However, they were always patient with me and part of the reason my level grew so quickly.

End of the year party at the University. From Left: Keziban (Turkey), Me, Emina & her daughter (Serbia), Alisa (Serbia) and Maria (Japan).

Also, on our last day of classes, our group went on a field trip to Chateau Chamerolles. We had a tour guide and I was pretty fired up when I understood 99% of what she was saying. It was also a great time spent with my classmates. Here are some pics:

Saied, from Russia

The adorable Kako, from Japan

Alisa (Serbia) messing with Memei (Japan)

And the whole A Team (minus Hala)

So, this chapter comes to a close. I will be forever grateful to my husband and his parents for making this opportunity/adventure possible. Corinne and Jean-Paul treated me like their own and I am so lucky to have in laws that I not only like, but love to be around.  They are so much fun and were so wonderful and patient with me.  Never, in a million years did I think I would live in France and learn to speak french and I can not thank them enough.

Now we are changing directions – from language learning mode to getting married (again) mode. Oh the blogs (or books) I could write about getting married in a country where you don’t understand the language, process and the rules of the Catholic church. But, until July, I’m headed back to the States for some much needed quality time with Fabien, Bear, Cally and my family in Michigan. Alors, à plus tard, France!

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