Je suis de retour.

So I arrived in Geneva late Tuesday afternoon. My luggage, however, did not. It was sunny and 75 when I left Michigan. Here it’s cloudy and 50. And it took us 3 hours to drive back to Annecy from the airport when it normally takes 40 minutes. Welcome back to France, indeed.

Being in Michigan was so great, and so easy. Everyone spoke English. I drove my car everywhere. I shopped on a Sunday and the cashier bagged all of my stuff. I didn’t feel rushed or stressed at all. And now I’m back to speaking French, which still gives me a headache. I have to rely on the train to get to work. I can’t get anything done after 7 pm or on Sundays. But mon amour is here. And good health care. And an income.

I do think my biggest struggle living here is still not speaking French completely fluently. I’m always nervous when I go out because I don’t want people talking to me and then feeling like an idiot when I don’t understand. The other big problem is not having a car. I have no control over when the train leaves or arrives, or if it’s going to be late, and it stresses me out everyday.

But I know I can speak French. I had no problems talking to the airport and getting my luggage delivered today. And that was all on the phone in French, something I’ve dreaded for years. I know I can do this, I just need to try harder. I haven’t studied in such a long time; I haven’t made a real effort to improve. Recently, I found an article written by an American who moved to Paris for his job and had to learn French. I have no idea why I never found it before since it’s been around since 1998. It’s extremely helpful in explaining actual conversational French. It would have been so useful when I first arrived last year.

Fluent French: Experiences of an English Speaker by Erik T. Mueller

And David & I are going to look for a car for me very soon. He knows how much I hate taking the train and how much I miss driving. I just hope I can afford one! I still haven’t transferred most of my money from my US account and the exchange rate just keeps getting worse and worse. :(

And just for fun, Brandy in my parents’ huge backyard (a.k.a. why I hate living in an apartment).

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  • Emily

    I had or still have the same fears and frustrations with French. I’ve only lived here 1.75 years and do not speak fluently. It took me about a year to feel comfortable talking to someone/anyone, knowing that my French was terrible. I just came to a point of acceptance. But I still get frustrated and sometimes I end up in tears. And talking on the phone is the WORST. When will that ever get better? I wonder. Good luck car searching. Are you looking for used cars?

  • Emily

    I had or still have the same fears and frustrations with French. I’ve only lived here 1.75 years and do not speak fluently. It took me about a year to feel comfortable talking to someone/anyone, knowing that my French was terrible. I just came to a point of acceptance. But I still get frustrated and sometimes I end up in tears. And talking on the phone is the WORST. When will that ever get better? I wonder.

    Good luck car searching. Are you looking for used cars?

  • Leah

    Aww, what kind of doggy is that? Very cute! I hope you can get a car soon and keep up what you’ve been doing with your French and you’ll get to where you want to be little by little, but it will be so satsifying in the end!

  • Leah

    Aww, what kind of doggy is that? Very cute!

    I hope you can get a car soon and keep up what you’ve been doing with your French and you’ll get to where you want to be little by little, but it will be so satsifying in the end!

  • Mlle Smith

    Thus far, I’ve found both speaking in person and on the phone equally horrific. :ol

  • Mlle Smith

    Thus far, I’ve found both speaking in person and on the phone equally horrific. :ol

  • The Late Bloomer

    Hey, don’t worry — seriously, the language will come! You’ll be speaking French very comfortably before you know it. It always seems really daunting at first, but when you make those first few steps, it will get easier and easier. You already have an excellent grasp of the French language from all that I’ve read here on your blog, and on your language pages that you’ve developed, so the spoken part will come really soon. I’ve always hated talking on the phone in French anyway — I find that much harder than speaking in person, to be honest!Hang in there… You’re doing great! And Leah is right — it will be such a satisfying feeling when you realize how much you understand and all that you’ve accomplished in such a short time.

  • The Late Bloomer

    Hey, don’t worry — seriously, the language will come! You’ll be speaking French very comfortably before you know it. It always seems really daunting at first, but when you make those first few steps, it will get easier and easier. You already have an excellent grasp of the French language from all that I’ve read here on your blog, and on your language pages that you’ve developed, so the spoken part will come really soon. I’ve always hated talking on the phone in French anyway — I find that much harder than speaking in person, to be honest!

    Hang in there… You’re doing great! And Leah is right — it will be such a satisfying feeling when you realize how much you understand and all that you’ve accomplished in such a short time.

  • Penny

    Welcome back! Thanks for the great link – I’ve book marked it to read it properly later. Have confidence in yourself and hang in there! Your french *really* is good :)

  • Penny

    Welcome back! Thanks for the great link – I’ve book marked it to read it properly later. Have confidence in yourself and hang in there! Your french *really* is good :)

  • Linda

    I don’t speak French well and probably never will. I am lucky in that I don’t care if I get comments from the French or if my spoken French is awful. That’s life.

  • Linda

    I don’t speak French well and probably never will. I am lucky in that I don’t care if I get comments from the French or if my spoken French is awful. That’s life.

  • IslandGirl4Ever2

    Hi there Jenny… I wrote a comment just before this but there was an error and it didn’t work… So, I am trying again.. First.. thanks for your comment on my blog.. SOOOOO CRAZY about Generlow Wilson and I am just glad he is finally FREE!!! Also… I can relate to the easy time you had going back home and doing everything in English.. I’ve been here for a little over a year now and things aren’t always easy for me, though I do consider my French presque couramment. I studied French at school from age 14-20, so it gives me an advantage in grammar but speaking and comprehending are NOT at all like text book French! Anyhow… I miss some aspects of customer service from the U.S. – I find the people here at stores to be very kind and even friendly… talkative… and I haven’t had really any problems with service.. I DO miss Whole Foods, Target, Henrys, Trader Joes… and BIG supermarkets like Ralphs, Vons, and Costco!!! It’s weird NOT having a car, but here in Paris and the surrounding suburbs, it’s not so bad… I really DON’T want to drive here with the crazies… They’re all NUTS!!Anyhow.. that’s my 2 centimes!! Ciao, Leesa

  • IslandGirl4Ever2

    Hi there Jenny… I wrote a comment just before this but there was an error and it didn’t work… So, I am trying again.. First.. thanks for your comment on my blog.. SOOOOO CRAZY about Generlow Wilson and I am just glad he is finally FREE!!! Also… I can relate to the easy time you had going back home and doing everything in English.. I’ve been here for a little over a year now and things aren’t always easy for me, though I do consider my French presque couramment. I studied French at school from age 14-20, so it gives me an advantage in grammar but speaking and comprehending are NOT at all like text book French! Anyhow… I miss some aspects of customer service from the U.S. – I find the people here at stores to be very kind and even friendly… talkative… and I haven’t had really any problems with service.. I DO miss Whole Foods, Target, Henrys, Trader Joes… and BIG supermarkets like Ralphs, Vons, and Costco!!! It’s weird NOT having a car, but here in Paris and the surrounding suburbs, it’s not so bad… I really DON’T want to drive here with the crazies… They’re all NUTS!!
    Anyhow.. that’s my 2 centimes!! Ciao, Leesa

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Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In January 2010, I started focusing more on teaching and learning languages in general. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at the university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling (though now my trips are usually in Australia) and being an American abroad.

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