“J’ai accompli de délicieux voyages embarqué sur un mot.” – Honoré de Balzac
“Just a single word has launched for me many wonderful adventures.”
If I had to choose a word or idea that was connected to my summer in France, it would have to be “effort”. Whenever you go to a place where you do not speak the language well, it is important to put out an effort in order to enjoy anything. Unless you truly make an effort to learn and enjoy yourself, you are not going to get the full experience and this was something that I recognized shortly after arriving in France.
When I first arrived in La Rochelle, I was very hesitant to try to speak any more than what was required of me because I did not want to sound like an idiot. As a result of this, conversations with me early on were very short and awkward. After a little bit, I realized that in order to really get to experience everything I had in front of me, I needed to try to become more involved in conversations around me. I just had to embrace the fact that I was not going to be able to speak perfect French and no one really expected me to. Once I realized that, it became a lot easier for me to ask questions and to get involved in discussions at meals. Another thing that happened as a result of my making an effort was my spoken French improved. By the end of the trip, my host family was telling me how much of an improvement they could see in my French and by making that effort, I enjoyed myself more than I may have otherwise.
~ Jordan Hammelman ’10