This is Nice, France. Looks pretty nice, no? Well, I certainly think so. In fact, it’s what’s been getting me through my long grammar-filled days lately.
Let me explain.
Some language departments at FSI arrange two-week immersion trips for their students. A bunch of my A-100 colleagues who are a few months into their Spanish training are actually off studying in Buenos Aires at this very moment. (Life is rough, eh?)
The French department doesn’t arrange any such trips, but they will allow me to go on one provided I work out the details myself. And pay for it. And convince them it’ll help me. (Read: Complete lots of paperwork. This is the government, after all.)
There are also some other bureaucratic… challenges. (Andy refers to these as bureaucratic nightmares, but I’m working on this whole diplomacy thing.)
Because my French has to be at a certain level before I apply, and because I must apply a certain amount of time before my trip, and because my trip must be a certain length, and because I must return to FSI for a certain amount of time before my final French exam, well, by my calculations, there’s a narrow window of somewhere in the vicinity of a few hours that I’ll actually be eligible to apply. Hmm. And that’s assuming I remain on track.
But no worries. I’m convinced to make it work.
I have to. I need something to look forward to. Focusing on French every day without an end in sight is tiring. Barring an emergency, I can’t take any vacation time during my training. And this immersion trip — because I would be learning and studying after all — wouldn’t count as a vacation. Not that it would be like a vacation. I would be in class as many hours as I would be at FSI. Maybe more. And then, of course, I’d have to use my French the rest of the day too.
It wouldn’t be easy, but it’d be a nice change of pace, and I really do think it would help.
If I am lucky enough to get to do an immersion trip, it doesn’t necessarily have to be in Nice, and maybe in the end it wouldn’t be. There are immersion programs pretty much everywhere French is spoken: Senegal, Morocco, Monaco, Guadeloupe, Belgium, Switzerland, elsewhere in France… But, thus far, price and reputation make the Nice program the front-runner. (And yes, I realize that late fall isn’t exactly perfect timing to visit the south of France, but you take what you can get.)
Andy plans to come too. So who wants Abbey for two weeks in early November? Don’t all volunteer at once.