French Hi(gh): Faites comme les français!
When in France, just set yourself free. Explore and Exchange and Enjoy.
- Don’t stay alone during evenings
The first few days (and sometimes months) might be slightly difficult for you because it is a period where you try to adjust. The best way to get out of the gloominess of being alone in a foreign land is to learn to say yes to all sorts of soirées— you’ll meet amazing people. Invite people over for a dinner at your place (if going out looks like an expensive business). Sit with colleagues in the staff room, talk about how you spend your day, how they spend their’s— and you’d notice that common topics would flow effortlessly.
- Faire des bises
Your colleagues, when happy (and if they like you) would prefer to ‘faire des bises’ (kiss you on the cheek- French way of greeting people) – let them do it. It only means that you’re a part of the group and that they like you. In India, we hug friends and loved ones; it’s a warm and friendly gesture. In France, I have easily replaced it with ‘bisous’.
- ‘Bonjour’ breaks the ice
In India, never in my 25 years of life, did I greet a bus or an Auto driver but here, everytime I take the bus, I love saying bonjour. Most of the time, I try to make an eye contact with people around in order to greet them with a bonjour. And honestly, I love doing that because I have never done it in India. It suddenly makes the atmosphere more congenial and comfortable.
- Clear the myths: Talk to your students: Feel Good
Students here call their teachers by their surnames. They had the choice of calling me Madame KANDPAL or simply Priyanka or Miss. I chose Priyanka over Madame. They meet me at the corridor and greet me by saying, “Hello Priyanka, Good morning”. My Indian students called me ‘Priyanka Ma’am”, so it’s not all that different. Students here do not wear uniforms (in India too we have some schools where uniforms are not a compulsion). The best part is that students here look impeccable with their boots, pullovers, mufflers, bags- all in place- right in the morning. I get motivated to dress nicely to school. I try.
You talk about India and the first thing you hear is, “Elephants”. I still haven’t understood this correlation but I tried explaining that India is not equal to Elephants and Cows roaming on the streets. It’s also about innumerable spices, colorful festivals, tangible and intangible heritage, folklore, music, panchantantra, traditional dresses, and much more. I love to see their astonished faces and ‘it-must-be-amazing’ expressions when I mention “butter Chicken” or “Curry”. Most of them know what that is so you can try mentioning in your class and see what magic it does.
- Some vocabulary that might help:
Ca va?- Are you good?
Ca va bien: It’s going good
Au revoir: Good bye
Ciao: Good Bye
Pardon: Excuse me/Sorry
Merci: Thank you
Merci, c’est gentil: Thank you that’s really kind of you. (It’s important. Everytime, someone does something for you- Say it. Tell them that their gesture was really kind. French do it! 😉
If you have more suggestions/advices/observations: feel free to post them in the comment box!