04 April 2008

Je m'en fiche

2 April 2008; 6:15 pm: Michelle en fiches.
2 April 2008, 7:00 pm: Michelle talks during dinner. All the skies rejoiced, alleluia, amen.
3 April 2008, 7:25-10:30: Michelle actually asks questions during dinner. All the skies were impressed, whoopee doo dah hoorah.
3 April 2008, 10:37 pm: Michelle begins new blog and discovers that she can no longer type on her English keyboard.

French phrase of the week: “Je m’en fiche.”
Translation: “I don’t care.”

And I don’t. I just decided that yesterday. And I just want to show you guys how in my head the French keyboard is, by retyping this same section, but by keeping all the errors I keep making.
Qnd I don4t> I just decided thqt> And I just zqnt to shoz you guys hoz in ;y heqd the French keyboqrd ism by retyping this sq;e sectionm but by keeping qll the errors I keep ;qking>
Ok. Haha….seriously. Every time I go for the period I hit the shift key cause that’s how you do it on the French board. And every single time I have to go back and correct it. Every single time, I’m not even exaggerating, that I’ve typed a period so far, I’ve had to go back and change it from the arrow thing to the period.

Ariel made her own list of how you know when you’re studying a new language…I’d like to add “and you know you’re finally getting it.”

1. You type on your own keyboard and it takes you longer to type in your maternal language than it even took you before you learned how to type.
2. When you’re on skype instant messaging your friends you can’t keep track of which language to use when and you end up just using whichever one someone happens to reply in. This means you start trying to talk to Anglophones in French…
3. TV is suddenly once again a leisure activity, even though you still may not understand everything
4. You try to make a joke and people actually laugh
5. The woman at the marché replies to you in French and doesn’t give you the “oh look at the adorable American” look
6. People stop giving you that same look
7. You feel really guilty for doing anything in English, including your blog
8. You understand and use French text slang
9. The first things that pop into your head at dinner are slang phrases but you don’t want to say them cause you’re not sure about their level of familiarity
10. You decide on your way home that you’re finally comfortable and don’t care any more about making mistakes in front of your host family
11. You keep on hitting the semi-colon when you want an ‘m’ and still think the 4 is the apostrophe.
12. You forget that some words don’t translate directly and use them all the time. Such as ‘gare,’ ‘marché,’ and ‘nul.’
13. Only your friends who speak franglais ever know what you’re saying.
14. You just walked to the kitchen in your pajamas to get water and helped yourself to a Breton super galette from the cabinet. You also know that the glass you’re drinking out of is labeled with a French water company but can’t figure out why your family has it…but only one of them. Like the coca cola glass. There is one of them. One? Why not, like, four?
15. You know how to order food.

Ok, so maybe not all of those were actually related to language, but hey, I just write what I feel, man. Today there was a manifestation during my 13h30 class. The university students were yelling about how they want to be paid for their internships. We had a good laugh about that. “I pay 6 euros a year for university level education! Pay me more because I’m so poor!” Haha
So yeah. Yesterday I was walking home from the bus stop (which in all reality is a four minute walk, I don’t know why I make it sound like I’m walking a long distance, I’m not at all) when it suddenly hit me that I was being dumb. It only took like 63 days to come up with, but I finally got fed up with myself being afraid of things. I think more information is needed.

I am not a stupid person. Dur. But really…I’m not. I like to think that I grasp things relatively quickly; so when I feel like I’m not, I kinda freak out and get really angry at myself. Something about a perfectionist complex, or whatever. Hm…So this entire week Jessica and I were just beating ourselves up for making silly mistakes in our homework. They’re really not all that bad. I guess I’d put it on par with writing a sentence that read “It depend of young people and that which they do” which actually sounds like a bunch of poo, and I’m trying to ignore that, because I just translated that sentence from one I wrote on a test…anyway…the sentence makes sense in the way that you can read it and you know what the person is trying to say, but when it comes to grammatical correctness we are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay off.

This is good because we’re in Seuil and aren’t supposed to be perfect. This is bad because Jessica and I tend to feel like we should be…well, perfect. For a good part of the week Mark was just getting fed up with the two of us talking about how stupid we feel most of the time.
I mean, put yourself in this situation: You get to live in a country you’ve been dreaming about for years. You’ve been studying the language for at least 5 years, if not a little more. People in the states tell you that you’re good, and that you have a good accent, and you believe them. Then you get settled in and start trying to work your way around. The people you speak to in French try to reply to you in English, a lot of them use hand motions to illustrate what they mean. When you start getting devoirs (homework) and tests back, you realize that you’re making mistakes in conjugations you learned your first year of French. When it comes to reacting to things like jokes or assumptions or questions about how you feel about things, your brain gets stopped up like a shower with a wad of hair (yeah, nasty, I know) and you just sit there trying to put words to what you want to say. Finally you settle on something along the lines of: “Yes I love strawberries” instead of “Of course I love them! When I was little I used to pick them in my back yard in my mom’s garden!” When people nod and smile at your small response you hit yourself figuratively and in your head you formulate the sentence you should have said, this time without the pressure. You realize it was easy.

And that in and of itself is the key. Everything that used to be easy is difficult. And I really do mean everything.

But I’m done with letting it bother me. I make mistakes, I don’t care anymore. I give up, I give in, I can’t be perfect in France, ok, yeah, you got me, pow I’m dead. Not fair. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to finally get over myself. That’s how I’m putting it. I finally got over myself.
In almost exactly a week I’ll be leaving for Germany. How cool is that? The only problem is that I ordered some train tickets from the Bahn and for some reason they haven’t gotten to me yet. The Bahn is the German rail system, and they’re supposed to be really amazing. I tend to disagree, for a couple reasons. First, for some reason the $29 ticket that Sophia clicked on to purchase was charged as $139 or something crazy like that. Her receipt email even read as the higher price; we don’t really know what to do there. Other reason: they sent my tickets to the United States. Yup.

Actually that part was my fault, technically, since I was talking to Jessica and Sophia at the time and didn’t click on the “My delivery address is different from my billing address” button. So instead of going to France, the tickets are apparently on their way to Arvada. This would have been nearly ok if it weren’t for the fact that they were “mailed” on 16 march but have yet to actually get there. And since we’re leaving in a week, I’m starting to get really really antsy. They’ve been talking to me and are kinda helpful, I mean, as helpful as they can be without saying sure, yeah, we’ll just give you new tickets when you get to Bremen and want to get to Berlin. Haha…yeah, it’s kinda important that I get these.

I just don’t understand why it would take three weeks for three slips of paper in an envelope to get to Colorado when it takes a week for a letter to get to me from Tennessee…

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