role reversal

In July, after our first few weeks of French, Alex and I had the following conversation:

Alex: It seems like nobody passes the French test. I’m nervous.
Andy: I bet you’ll do fine, stop worrying.
Alex: Be quiet. You don’t have to pass the test. You don’t even have to take it.
Andy: Um, here’s our dog, play with her for a while.

Well, fast forward to five months later and the roles have reversed. While Alex still has to take the test, the pressure is mostly off of her. After all, we’re going to be here until August no matter what. What’s another month or two in French class but a chance to improve her speaking and avoid the need to buy maternity suits for a bridge assignment at Main State? Besides, almost nobody passes the test the first time around.

Me on the other hand, now I’m starting to feel the pressure. Let me explain. As an EFM, I have no real obligation to take the two-hour end of training exam. I don’t have to achieve a certain score in order to go with Alex to Benin. If I wanted to, I could just decide that today was my last day of French class and spend the rest of December sleeping until noon, hanging out with my dog and eating cereal directly from the box.

But I do have motivations to continue. First, the better I speak French, the better I will be able to conduct important business in Benin, such as getting our car tuned up or arranging for golf lessons on the country’s only golf course. And unlike Alex, my French training will likely end with my test on December 20 even if I fail. Typically EFMs aren’t able to get additional training.

Second, if I manage to pass the oral section of my end of training exam, that will give me bonus points on the management register. That means I won’t have to take the phone test that most FSO candidates take to get an extra boost. But if I don’t pass the oral section, I’ll still be able to take the phone test right away, and I’ll have a pretty good idea of my weaknesses.

So lately, the roles have been reversed. I find myself feeling a little stressed while Alex is more relaxed. I’m the one up early doing homework, grumbling when I’m interrupted, and she’s getting an extra hour of sleep.

Bon chance à moi.

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