take that, french language

Good news for you Foreign Service folks bound for Francophone countries: Perhaps FSI’s French Department is finally relaxing its standards, because today they deemed me proficient in the French language! Me, who admittedly was making good progress at first, but then who, well, in all honesty, pretty much took a break for a few months to focus on feeling miserable and making my husband feel miserable about the misery he caused. Oh, the joys of the first trimester.

This is how it feels to be done with French. (If only the weather outside resembled this picture, I'd be totally set.)

What makes this even more surprising is that I performed horrendously during my exam today. I totally forgot all the complicated tricks I had up my sleeve to try to seem more advanced than I really am. Worse yet, I made dumb mistakes I never make in class. I don’t know why this happened. Nerves, perhaps? It certainly didn’t help that my examiner just so happened to be the one person in the whole French Department who intimidates me, with her perfect accent and seeming disdain for every word that comes out of my mouth. (She subbed for my class a few months ago for one very, very long day.) Although, to be fair, she was perfectly nice during my test this morning, even during my exit interview while stressing several times that despite passing, I still really, really need to work on my accent.

In any case, I got my 3/3. This is good news because:

  • I’m ready to say au revoir to French at FSI. It’s tiring. I need a break.
  • I’m really proud of myself for passing. Even without the pregnancy, it was unlikely. With the pregnancy, I really thought it was impossible.
  • I get the rest of the week off. Helllllo, Christmas shopping!
  • Passing and moving on to other training will result in a longer Christmas break than if I’d remained in French. Sweet!

However, this isn’t all good, because:

  • Since I can’t go to post until after giving birth, I’ll have to do something work-related in DC until May. Frankly, as much as I’m ready for a break from French, more class would have been a lot easier than what I’ll likely end up doing when my other training ends in February: a bridge assignment at Main State.
  • French class has no dress code. Main State does. Have you seen maternity business suits? Yeah, me too. They’re horrible. And expensive.

In the long run, I’ll probably kick myself for getting my 3/3 on the first go — not just to avoid a potentially exhausting bridge assignment during my third trimester, but also because my French still definitely needs work. The idea of having intelligent conversions in French as a representative of the American government, well, that terrifies me. Trust me, no matter what FSI says, I’m not ready. For that reason, more training wouldn’t have been so bad.

But oh well. For now, at least, passing feels pretty good. As does all the lounging around I have planned for the rest of the week!

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5 Responses to take that, french language

  1. Daniela says:

    Congrats! You passed on the first attempt – that’s awesome! You’ll be able to relax around the holidays. A bridge assignment at Main state in your third trimester is not ideal but at least it won’t be butt cold. Perhaps you can keep working on your French with Rosetta Stone. I know a lot of people don’t like it but it’s better than nothing! Hope you are feeling well!

  2. Natalia says:

    Dear Alex,
    I stumbled across your blog today via one of those google analytic searches you profiled! I hope you don’t mind this stranger commenting but I found it so interesting not least because I myself am deep in the FSOT process (passed the Oral, have Med clearance, waiting on sec clearance), am married to someone looking to test in February, AND am expecting my first baby (due Feb, hopefully not the same day as my husband’s test!).
    It’s been really nice to read through your experiences, very comforting! I want to wish you, your hubby, your pup and the bump the very best! Keep blogging!
    See you around Foggy Bottom or some far flung embassy!

  3. Bridget says:

    well, congratulations, that’s a huge accomplishment and something makes me think that you are not giving yourself enough credit for doing a great job! Try not to worry about the spring, you will probably/hopefully feel great during your last tri, and at least you’ll likely get a seat on the metro! congrats!

  4. eve says:

    Yipppeeee! Way to go Alex! I hope you’re enjoying sleeping in today and lounging around. What a remarkable accomplishment. Nicely done!

  5. Meaghan says:

    Félicitations! Je suis en formation du français aussi, et je suis agente consulaire à le ministre des affaires étrangères Canadien. J’ai découvert ton blogue aujourd’hui dans un autre blogue FS.

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