Parlez vous anglais? A phrase I may have said quite a few times when I first moved to France last summer. We’ve been living in France for almost 10 months now.. wow, time has really flown but at the same time Rhys and I have really made the most of it. Due to the work project Rhys is on over here we don’t know how much longer we have left in this beautiful city so we need to get cracking with a ‘must see’, ‘to do’ list. Before moving here last July I had no idea how life would be in Pau. It’s not a well known tourist destination so I presumed that not everyone would know how to speak English. I wasn’t quite prepared for what felt like 99% of the French I spoke to not knowing any English at all! (or so they say anyway). At times, being an English speaker can make you feel so very lucky that a lot of the world have made the effort to learn our language and yet so very ignorant, lazy and ashamed at the same time. Most of us skip all over the world on many holiday destinations without a care about anything, the native language including! I thought I’d be able to muddle along with what French might miraculously come back to me from school (I got a D in GCSE). Hell no. How wrong was I?! It all sounds so different and fast and I even discovered that we’d been taught how to say where I live incorrectly. FYI: It’s J’habite à Pau NOT J’habite dans Pau. I obviously wasn’t expecting anyone to cater to my English speaking needs so I enrolled onto a group French conversation lesson as soon as I could. I’ve been going twice a week since last August and I absolutely love it. I’m definitely not fluent by any means but I can understand a lot more and I can talk about shopping, eating out and skiing – what more is there to discuss than that anyway?! Joking aside I now have even more of an appreciation for other languages and will be making a bit more of an effort with my Greek and Spanish at the 3 out 5 wedding destinations we’re travelling to this year. 🙂
If you have recently moved abroad or are planning on doing so in the near future, here is a few tips that might help you to get settled in;
Learn the language
Learning another language is really rewarding and helps your independence grow in an unfamiliar place. 1-1 lessons are usually the best for speedy results but group lessons can be more fun! Mine are so cheap because they’re ran by the local community centre and every person that attends is a different nationality. I get to learn about other cultures and it makes you realise that you’re not the only newbie in town. Win win!
The best way to immerse yourself in your surroundings is to get involved in what’s happening in your community. Find the local paper or the local tourism Facebook page to get regular updates.
It’s really important not to isolate yourself, especially if you’re making the move on your own. Keep busy, join local clubs and have fun! I’ll be honest, I’ve not really made many French friends. I’m too busy hosting guests from home, learning to ski and exploring with Rhys on the weekend. I do make an effort to chat to the parents of the French children I teach. They’ve actually been the best source of lots of information and are all very nice!