This post has been a long time in the making! After my French immersion experience this summer, I wanted to write this post, but I needed some time after it to concentrate on other things (my nursing exam and work) before I could complete it.
This summer, I spent 5 weeks in another city, living in residence at the university in a total French immersion program. I already had some French knowledge, because I took French immersion in middle school. When I got to high school, I switched back into English, didn’t practice French, and lost a lot of it.
So 6 years after high school graduation and about 10 years after my French immersion schooling ended, I couldn’t really speak French, but I could understand some words and say a few basic things. I had just graduated from the busy 2-year LPN program and had taken a job in a field I was so excited to be a part of. I was eager to start working. I was impatient to start working, but I had received a bursary to take this French immersion program and I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
So, a few days after graduation, my boyfriend brought me to the university and helped me get unpacked in my residence room, which was actually pretty nice. I didn’t have to share it with anyone and I had my own bathroom and shower! I had never lived in residence. I still lived at home during my first couple of years after high school, while I studied at the local university and worked. I moved into an apartment with my boyfriend at 20, and we still live together almost 5 years later. So I had no idea what to expect from living in residence, but it turned out to be great and I was able to keep to myself whenever I felt like it, since I had my own room with a little kitchenette. I was grateful for that when I needed time to be by myself to study or just take a break.
It was 5 weeks of intense French immersion, where I completed 2 French university courses and went on countless trips and activities with the group. I was placed in the Intermediate level by my placement test, which surprised me at first but turned out to be perfect for me. There were 5 levels of French skill, and I was in the middle. I was amazed at how quickly the French I had forgotten came back. Within a couple of days, I could have simple conversations, my accent was improved, and I got over my fear of saying things wrong (because we all make mistakes, and what matters is that we keep trying to improve).
I made new friends, went on exciting adventures, missed my family and hometown like crazy, and learned a lot of French! The whole things was so outside of my comfort zone, but it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be and I made friends more easily than I expected. The entire experience was so rewarding. A learning experience, a period of personal growth, and overall a great decision. I am so glad I said yes to the opportunity and took a chance on something new. I couldn’t have imagined how much I would get from it. I learned a lot of French, and my repeat placement test at the end placed me at the Intermediate-Advanced level (4th out of the 5 levels). Now, I need to keep practicing my French so that I can take the official placement test and be considered bilingual for my job. I’ve been so busy working that I haven’t taken a lot of time out to do it, but I know I need to now, before I lose the French I learned again.
If I ever have the opportunity to do something like that again, I know I would do it!
This is just part of the group, on one of the day trips we took to another province ❤