Je parle francais…un peu. I am definitely not fluent in French; I studied it at A Level but since leaving school, I have rarely spoken it. It’s such a shame as it’s a really beautiful language and I hate being one of those people who can only speak English. Plus, Paris is the city of love…so if I’m to find the love of my life when I go there, it will surely boost my chances if I speak the language.
The summer of 2010 was after my second year of university and I didn’t want to do an internship or get a job; I wanted to enjoy my summer. But I couldn’t get away from the fact that lots of my friends were boosting their CVs with impressive internships at big-name firms so I found the perfect thing to add to my CV that also let me travel: a language course.
I went to Bordeaux, France with a friend from university; we did a month-long course at the Alliance Francaise – 4 hours of lessons a day, 5 days a week. Why would I take a break from university only to study more? I love France – the language, the people, everything. And 4 hours isn’t much so you still have 5/6 of your day to spend as you please.
I met lots of really good friends (in fact, my trip to Krakow last week was with two friends from the French course), explored a new city and drank lots of cheap Bordeaux wine (of course). My favourite memories are of sitting by the Miroir D’Eau each evening, drinking calimocho (a Spanish concoction of red wine and Coke – it tastes surprisingly good) and chatting with the other students from all over the world. I’ll admit we did usually speak in English…but I still had lots of opportunities to practise my French.
I lived with a French family for the whole month and was looked after very well, with breakfast and dinner included in the price. Maria (the Spanish girl from the Krakow trip) lived with us too and we remained pretty much inseparable until we left. Though Maria and I spoke in English to each other, the family only spoke French so this led to some interesting conversations at the dinner table where Maria and I had to improvise French words and ended up gabbling away in English, debating how best to communicate a specific word.
A month isn’t a long time and it’s not like my French has improved loads but it refreshed my language skills so now I can legitimately put ‘French – intermediate’ on my CV. And for anyone thinking that it doesn’t actually look that great on a CV: when I was sitting in an interview last year, my prospective employer looked at my resume and skimmed right over my previous – and relevant – work experience and only asked me about the French course. I got the job. I’m not saying I got it because I did the course but I think it shows certain aspects of my character that are attractive to an employer, mainly being hard-working, eager to learn and independent.