“Do you speak French?” That was the first question that everyone asked Steve and me when we said we were moving to France. We both said no. No problem. We would learn. Well, we tried, but it did not come trippingly off our tongues. Luckily, we gestured and pointed our way through most situations. However, that did not work with the French Health System. Nor did it work with many of the situations that I faced handling matters after Steve’s death. For example, important calls from Paris, leaving messages in French on my phone from a blocked number. I bungled my way through it, but I knew – if I stayed in Nice, I must learn French.
After Christmas, with advice and encouragement from friends, I enrolled in a beginner course at Alliance francaise. Four hours a day, five days a week, four weeks. I am just concluding my first week – exhausted and encouraged, striving to get up to speed. Not easy, but OK. Up at 6:00 a.m., out the door by 8:00, on the No. 15 bus by 8:15, at the Bar/Coffee Shop by 8:35 (fresh orange juice and café Americain),
at class by 8:50, commence work at 9:00,
going non-stop until 1:00. Then – homework. It’s easier than going to trial.
It is a small class of six students – Scott (age 27, very intelligent guy – from Australia), Sukanya (age 40, great personality – from Thailand), Laura (age 16, adorable – from Columbia), Polly (age 35, gorgeous – from Hong Kong), Steven (57, No. 1 helper to ALL of us and married to a French woman, from Daytona Beach, Florida), and me (79 going on 21, gorgeous – from Los Angeles, now Nice, France).
Our professor is Elizabeth (51, tall, gorgeous gracious, patient – married with kids, from France, lives in Eze).
In class, we speak French at all times. Elizabeth answers questions in French. Needless to say, Elizabeth is the only person in the room who seems to know what is going on or what anyone is trying to say. But, she is amazingly patient, and we all are doing well. That said – by 12:00, I am flooded with adrenaline, but the time flies by.
So, at the end of class on the 4th day of my first week during my sixteenth month in Nice, France, I am learning French. Long way to go. No problem. I have the time and the motivation. I can afford a month of tuition. After that, I plan to schedule sessions with people I’ve met who want to practice English. We will exchange time – I practice my French, and he/she practices English. Over coffee somewhere. That works. Gets me out of the condo and gives me practice.
A word about Alliance francaise – it was founded in 1884. It is a non-profit association of higher education (French law of 1901), a member of the first cultural network in the world (all languages included), based on the Alliance francaise Foundation. Each year, over 1700 students from 90 different nationalities come to learn French in a multicultural environment. The Alliance française de Nice, does not only focus on French language teaching. It is part of an international network created in 1883 in Paris by an “organization of free men” working to serve our worldwide renowned language and culture, with schools in 136 countries on all five continents.
These pictures are not up to standard, but will do in a pinch. I don’t want my classmates to think I am not taking things seriously – snapping pics during class.