The French Withdrawal.

Yup. My French term has officially ended and I’m feeling so lost, so grumpy, and so terribly unhappy.

For eight weeks, I looked forward to waking up at 7am every Tuesday and Thursday morning for French Class. Even if that meant an hour-long journey. Even if that meant train rides with too many grumpy (sometimes sweaty) commuters. I fight for room to stand most of the time, and sometimes I fight for air to breathe. But always… I’ll be revising my French.

I met an old friend a month back, who was shocked that I had left work.

“To do what?” he asked. (Demanded, almost.)

“Study French.”

“What the heck for? Who are you going to speak French to? Go back to work!”

I smiled and changed the subject. How can I explain the joy that language… that learning brings? I would fail miserably. Besides, if he couldn’t see the reason behind exploring something new, how would he be able to accept my explanation… or any explanation for that matter.

Three months into my self-imposed sabbatical, I realised nothing gave me more pleasure than when I am learning, experimenting and doing something new and challenging. My days were filled with driving and French. (And I had initially intended to take either Swedish or German at the same time. Multi-tasker alert.)

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve had people shudder in disgust on the train when I attempted the French ‘R’ sound. Know that awful sound some people make when they are hacking up phlegm? Yea. That’s the one.

I almost cried in frustration at home – twice – because homework was difficult. (Yes. When I told B I wanted to be the top student, I was only half-joking. What to do? NYG Syndrome.)

I am convinced that the lesson Guillaume had with us on Numbers: Seventy to One million etched permanent frown lines on my forehead.  I went home and ‘screamed’ on my Facebook status “I THOUGHT I WAS LEARNING FRENCH, NOT MATH!”

But to have the freedom to do whatever I want and learn whatever I like is such a treat… and luxury. So how can I not be thankful?

Now that the term is over, I still find myself waking up early on Thursday, all ready to go. Only now, there is technically nowhere to go to.

I’m not sure when I’ll be able to register for the next term – an important journey in June will interfere with French plans. I’m going to miss Guillaume – who is everything I want my teacher to be: attentive, meticulous, and so generous with his time and knowledge… I’m going to miss my supportive classmates…

In the meantime, I’m learning phrases and sentences on my own, twice a week. I scroll through my friends’ numbers on my phone so I can practise reciting their numéros de téléphone in French. It’s an uphill battle, not knowing if I got the nuances correct; missing out on the much needed interaction.

But when I started on this journey, I had a goal: to be fluent enough to watch French movies without the aid of subtitles. By hook or by crook, I’m going to get there.

 

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