Friday, June 21, 2013

Explore: Back Home

The Confederation Bridge (the longest over-water
bridge in the world, which takes you to PEI)
I’m home. Explore has been finished for a week.

It’s kind of weird, being home. In some ways, though, it just feels really normal, and in still other ways it feels weird that it feels so normal.

The strangest bit was Monday morning, when, instead of heading off to class, I went into Charlottetown for lunch with my friend. We went to an adorable little café, and I could ask questions about my food without having to think for a minute about the wording. I could chat with the cashiers. I could listen to the other patrons talking and actually understand what they were saying.

One of my favourite PEI beaches
I had to stop myself saying merci when they handed me my food. That’s been the most difficult; all the little things. The automatic desole when I bump into something, or oui in response to a question. The little phrases: ca fait de sense or quelque chose comme ca. I trained myself to give these responses and it takes a little while to un-learn them.

It’s sad, though, how quickly I’m adjusting. The first few days felt really strange, but after almost a week it’s just normal to be speaking only English. I’m making efforts to keep up my French, like reading the Bible in French, or speaking to my mom and friends, but it’s not the same as several hours of complete immersion. 

I don’t want to lose it. Explore, as fun as it was, was by no means easy, and I don’t want to forget everything I worked so hard to learn. Technically, I only need the credit to satisfy the language requirement for my MA, but practically, knowing a second language will be so useful on my travels. I’m already considering spending next summer in France, taking more courses.

At Explore, they sold coffee mugs with the following quote (in French) on them:

He who does not know a foreign language knows nothing of his own.
-- Goette

What's this? A National Park you guess? Nope...
it's my backyard. :)
At the beginning of Explore, as an arrogant English Major, I disagreed sharply with that quote. How could I have been a reader all my life, a writer for ten years, and a literature student for three, and yet still know nothing of my own language? Over the five weeks, though, I learned how right Goette was. The more I learned about French, the more I delved into English, learning about the structure, the phrases, and the purpose of the language. I probably learned almost as much about English as I did about French.

All that to say, I think I will remain a student of languages. Explore may be finished, but I’ll treat it as a springboard to further studies, not a one-off deal. After all, I’ll need yet another language if I do a PhD. Next stop… Latin?

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