So I think I wrote that I tested into a higher level than I thought I would, but here is how the system here works. The levels are as follows from easiest to hardest:
They announced at the beginning we shouldn’t panic if we are placed in elementary french and were above that at home because elementary here doesn’t have the same meaning as in the states. I think they just say that because ppl don’t realize how elementry their French actually is.
In addition to our language classes we also have a choice of electives. One of the electives is a business course taught in French, a film class in French and others are English. I didn’t pre-register for business French at home because it said you must be at a minimum 300 level for French and I took 202 last semester. I was even more upset on my first day because they announced a French tourism class being taught with business French as a pre-req. It would’ve been so perfect for my major!
Much to my surprise I actually made Elementaire 4 and will qualify for the business French class!!! I’m so excited! It is a business class taught in French about conducting business in France =)
By the end of my stay here I should ideally be at Intemediataire B, which isn’t fluent, but hopefully I will be able to hold adequate conversations on topics aside from the weather, time, ect…
I’ve had 3 days of classes so far. Each days is a total of 4 hours of French lessons and I’m enjoying it a lot. I am definitely one of the weaker (if not the weakest) students in the class, but I understand everything the teacher says and feel I am in a good place to learn. About half my class are Americans with USAC and half are other foreign students. We have a girl from Austalia, a girl from Sweden, a boy from England, a boy from Algeria, a girl from Israel (who was in the millitary), a Japonese girl, a girl from Thailand and a girl from South Africa. Maybe more….I can’t remember off the top of my head. A lot of them have lived all over the world and I’m looking forward to talking with them outside of class.
Outside of class I feel like I hang out with the Americans far too much, but it is hard to talk to French people. Most of them are so cold. Kim and I did meet a student studying English last week who spoke with us and I’ve met a lot of other foreign students. Yesterday I spoke to a chinese student in French. She doesn’t speak English and it was a very strange feeling to converse with someone knowing that I couldn’t fall back on my native tongue if I lost my place. Her accent was very strong, but I understood most of what she said to me. I also met a girl at the bus stop last week who goes to high school here. I saw her on the bus today with a friend and started talking to them. My french is so horrible her poor friend could barely understand me. She said she spoke a little Spanish and could understand poor spanish accents fine, but was hopeless with English accents. As we were talking a few mormon missionaries got on the bus. Upon hearing us talk one asked me, “D’ou viens-tu?” I told him I was from the USA and he asked which state, so I said Washington, near Seattle. He then called his friend over who is from Bonny-Lake and goes to UW. What are the chances?! He’s been in Bayonne for over a year now and wasn’t pleased at all when he found out where I go to school. Sadly our conversation was cut off there by my bus stop, but I walked home blasting my 80’s music on my Ipod and feeling much more at home here in Pau.
*Note – I’m really lazy about spell checking so please forgive my grammar and the spelling mistakes which have been steadily growing as I mix up French and English words (for example, I almost wrote Algerie instead of Algeria)