And here we are, the last post of the semester. I’ve come a long way. Today, during dinner, the oldest son of my host family came back from Germany — he’s an engineer, working in Munich. My host mom says he talks like a machine gun, but to my surprise, I started following his conversations rather effortlessly: he talked about his work in a job about “simulation,” about his co-worker who made a very bad Power Point, and about his political views on Holland. I understood almost everything. And I couldn’t stop the smile on my face.
Arriving at this stage was not easy. In the first two weeks of my internship I was first extremely intimidated by my boss, because in addition to being Polish, she also speaks French. My listening skills were constrained to being able to only understand colloquial how-are-yous, therefore not at all suitable for actual working environment. Not only unsuitable, as I imagined, but hazardous, too, because there’s a great possibility that I wouldn’t understand what anyone was really talking about. So there I was, standing awkwardly in her office, taking an average of about 2.64 seconds to respond, until she finally broke out and said in French, “Clivia, I don’t think you really understand what I am saying.” I was a million degrees. I murmured, si, so faintly I kind of hope she didn’t hear me, although I was furious inside. She then told me to “go to that room and show me.” I felt myself burning with fire to prove that I am not that useless, although on my way out of her office, I really had no idea what she had said. God blessed me because I had the right booklet in my hand when I re-entered her office, and she looked and me, and looked at the booklet, and said okay.
Our relationship has gone from that encounter, to a lazy Tuesday afternoon when she sat next to me and said, Clivia can you look at my English for me? (I guess she thought I was a native.) I nodded, thinking that I’ve been working for her for over two months and she finally put some form of responsibility on me. I read, I corrected, and sent it back to her, almost like sending my own work up to someone for grading.
She said très bien.
So I guess that’s that. Before coming I’ve always had the imaginary gif playing in my head, of me, and a cute French waiter, chatting off in a restaurant as I’m ordering a favorite dish. I guess right now, as I am writing this last post, might be the moment that I admit that, THAT, might never happen. My French would never be that good. Cute French waiters would never hit on me. I would never have enough money for a decent French meal. I would never pass as “French,” and that’s already determined when people look at my yellow skin.
Still one month to go, and yet already the last post. Today I also received an evaluation form of my host family, asking questions such as, “how was your living experience,” and I realized that in my response I automatically used “was,” not “is,” not even maybe “will be.” It seems like everyone is already accepting the fact that this experience is coming to an end.