Adjusting in a foreign country: #1 tip

After three months now in France, I could say I’ve certainly had my share of French life. Classes are in full swing, extracurriculars (well, volleyball) are going smoothly, and the French way of life has become rather normal. To that end, there are a couple thoughts I have had or realized over the course of my time abroad thus far that have greatly helped in terms of daily foreign language use and acclimation in such an environment.

I think having a host family is easily the best way for me to not only speak French daily, but to speak it a lot. From time at dinner to casual conversations watching TV, to complaining about the day’s work or course-loads, there is always plenty to talk about. And to that end, when there is a lot to talk about, there are certain ways to talk. And what I mean by that is that the manner in which the French speak is different than that in which Americans speak. Over the past couple of months, you start to realize that you hear certain words not only a lot, but every day. And being on the road to improving language fluency, it is precisely these little things that will develop the language.

And to this end, I have realized one trick, if you will, to fast-track a development in the language:

The way the French talk? Copy it.

And I mean it literally; these words and phrases you hear day after day after day… it means something, doesn’t it? It’s the way the French speak, and as a French major…is that not kind of the goal?

You hear a new word? Write it down. A new phrase? Write it down. A new expression? Write it down. And then use them as often as you possibly can until you don’t even realize that you’re saying them because it has become a part of your regular vocabulary. I am by no means there yet, but that is the goal – one that I hope to have by May.

With that said, here is a collection of a few words or expressions that I hear more or less daily and are fairly useful (moreover, ones that I have not learned in the classroom).

Du coup: so
Vachement: really (for emphasis) (or if you’re from Mass, you could see it as “wicked” like I did)
Pénible: tough, a nuisance
Véritablement: really (used for emphasis)
Bouquin / Bouquiner: A book / to read (have your head in a book)
Enfin bref: nevermind
Effectivement: Indeed, really (often used towards the beginning of a sentence)
J’ai la flemme: equivalent of “I don’t really want to” or “I don’t feel like it” (I use this one far too much)
C’est ouf: Verlan (french slang) of “C’est fou” meaning “That’s crazy”
Toucher sa bille en: To know a thing or two about
Un tas: a pile
Se lover: To curl up (i.e. to curl up on a couch or under a blanket)Un truc de malade: equivalent of “sick” as slang (i.e. oh c’est un truc de malade == oh that’s sick!

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