For the Love of Learning

I love learning. 

I love understanding new things, new concepts, new ideas, new ways of thinking.

So, this is super great for being here in France; learning the language, living in this culture. Right? That's what I thought!

When we arrived, we did a placement exam to determine how much we knew and what class would be best. I will admit, I was kinda happy when I placed into a higher class then Jesh (let's face it, being married to a surgeon but never even doing college courses myself, I'm pretty used to Jesh being the academically accomplished one:).

Well, needless to say, my delight lasted about a minute. It was quickly followed by the thought "how on earth I would join a class that's already been studying this language for 8 months?"

Oh man, have I been in for a ride! Some days, I am nodding along with my classmates as I semi-understand the new grammar being taught. And then there are many days when I'm sitting there like, huh?

Amidst the ups and downs, one word has repeatedly surfaced.


It's super humbling to sit in class and see most people get what's going on, and have the understanding wash over you that you might in fact be the one who knows the least.

It's super humbling to go to the grocery store and freeze when the lady comes to the deli counter to help.

Or how about the time the cashier asked if I had any change, and I stood there with a handful of it, slowly turning over each piece until I could read what the different values were? All the while the line up grew. And I couldn't yet explain that I am new to France, so I just looked kind of dumb! (I have quickly learned how to say that I am a student who is learning French:)

Let's not talk about the time during the first week of classes when I was asked a question, and as my teacher looked at me expectantly, I just teared up cause I was so overwhelmed with all the words I was trying, and failing, to understand! (My subsequent attempt at unravelling the large volumes of grammar now includes a dedicated grammar wall. Yes, friends, this is just the highlights of the grammatical portion of our studies thus far.)

It's pretty funny to think how much has changed in a couple months. I can now apologize for my poor french. And as someone to repeat themselves in semi-coherent way. And while I don't always know what to say, I am quickly learning what NOT to say! I've become pretty good at avoiding talking to the deli counter lady altogether by just pointing and saying "that!"

And yet, over and over I continue to be humbled.

Last week in volleyball, the organizer was explaining how we were gonna do one of the drills. He looked at me to see if I understood, and all I could do was look at him blankly.

And then there was the "bisou". Oh, that was just embarrassing. Have you heard or seen the french do the cheek-kissing thing? I was warned about this. I had heard stories, I had managed to avoid it so far. I don't totally know when you do it, or how many you do, so I've been content to just smile and say some sort of appropriate greeting.

Until it happened. I had just arrived at a practice, and had set my stuff down, when one of the guys was walking past. As he came toward me, I assumed he was needing to get past, so I dodged - only to realize he had been going in for a "bisou." I'm hoping a quick laugh and my excuse of being new was enough to lessen the awkwardness - for him, at least.

In the end, I don't know if I will know the volume of grammar and vocabulary well enough to move up to the next level after Christmas. It's hard to consider I might not do well, and yet I'm trying to remember that I can still glorify him, even if I can't quite get my head around the "subjunctive". Or the causative, or future simple, the passive, too...

So, all I can do is continue to learn- some Frenchand a lot of humility.