There are the usual mind-numbing necessities of having to move to another country: finding a safe place to live, filling out endless amounts of forms, sorting out money. The list goes on.
Throw in a new language to the mix and it turns into a completely different challenge.
Nothing starts panic stations like trying to find the lady that’s picking you up from Charles de Gaulle Airport, having your phone die – oh and not being able to understand what she said in the first place.
After learning French as part of my degree for the last three years, you would expect my level of the language of love to be of a high standard.
It would be, if everyone in France walked around with my college books, spouting the idioms and learned-off sentences that I had rethought myself for every tedious oral I had.
Unfortunately, people, particularly Parisians, don’t speak with any hard and fast rule of the French language. I’m convinced that different dialects, colloquialisms and a new type of French language, new to the nation, are there just to mess with the non-native speaker.
Even something as satisfying as getting pissed off with someone becomes a nightmare when you have to try and do it in another language.
Attempting to articulate my anger into perfect French, just so that the culprit can understand your frustration, is a skill I’m learning to conquer. However, all that I seem to spit out are those expletives that I learned from a friend years ago. They seemed hilarious and oh so necessary at the time.
A good suggestion would be to bring a fluent speaker of whatever language you’ve been dumped into, to help you do the finicky things, such as opening a bank account.
For three weeks, I have battled with three different bank clerks to try and open an account. A tip to remember, if you want to buy a French SIM card, you need a French bank account.
Having someone to argue in your corner makes it easier to tell the idiot bank clerks to stop fobbing me off to different banks.
Being contactable is essential when you’re in a country that you’re not familiar with.
I am yet to get a phone and so far, my travelling partner has had to go to hospital for ligament damage, I’ve lost the girl that I was supposed to do an assignment with and I’ve genuinely been bored out of my brains without access to the internet during the day.
Something as simple as doing the weekly shop can turn into fiasco if you mix up your book-learned verbs.
As a vegetarian, most of my time is spent trying to figure out if anything dead is in the soup your about to buy. On top of that, you run the risk of slightly poisoning yourself, when you bring home surface cleaner instead of washing up liquid. “Hmm my pasta tastes sort of bleachy today.” You’ll get the hang of it eventually.
Making friends quickly is vital if you’re going to be studying in a foreign language. Don’t be afraid to do the three “makes”:
1. Make a fool of yourself – If you’re willing to put yourself out there and just guess a word, even if it’s stupid, your classmates will appreciate this and help you out.
2. Make an impression – No matter how tired you are, go out on class nights out and find things in common with people. Make sure you’re remembered.
3. Make friends – Easier said than done, but if you’re able to make friends at home, you can do it anywhere. It’ll just take a little extra effort on your part.
Things like figuring out the transport systems available to you and finding out the cheapest places to drink/watch the match will come naturally.
It’s a daunting feeling when you’re plonked into a world of gibberish, but just give it a chance, it’ll slowly come to you.
Follow Danielle on Twitter: @DaniS10056.