Being a corporate expat in Paris entitles me to many wonderful perks. One of those includes 150 hours of complementary private French classes including an immersion program. For my company, an immersion program basically entails being flown to Pau in the South-West of France and staying with a French family. By day, you are treated to intensive one-on-one classes that run from 9-5pm and by night you have dinner with the family and get to bond with them in French. It’s very rewarding but it’s also extremely exhausting because it stretches you beyond your linguistic capacity. To speak and think in only French for a whole week requires a tremendous amount of effort for a non-native speaker like myself! I did my first week of immersion in January and due to ridiculously insane work obligations, couldn’t return for my second week until just last week! Nonetheless, this gap allowed me to put into practice all that I had learned in my first week and to acquire some of my own knowledge making for a rich experience the second time around.
The difference between being there in January and in June weather-wise was tremendous. This time, the skies were bluer and the temps were much warmer making it much more pleasant. Still, being so close to the Atlantic and the Pyrénées mountains means that cold depressions and heavy clouds are never far off so every couple of sunny days were punctuated by animated (warm) thunderstorms. I won’t complain because I finally got to eat outside a few times which was so lovely. On a more professional front, the classes were far more intense the 2nd time around however I am proud to announce that I scored a 17.5/20 on my French exam and oral presentation each! The director of the institute said she had never seen such flawless use of passé composé et l’imparfait before and apparently my prononciation et phonétique sont super! Yay for me! Like a child, I need the occasional pat on the back for motivation. After all the French grammaire is not to be messed with! I have never known a language which has so many exceptions! Mais on l’adore quand même!
Here are a few photos from this past week. Isn’t my host family’s home just beautiful! For more on Pau, check out this, this, this and this! You may notice from the surroundings that I chose to stay with the same family the second time around. They live in Jurançon, a few 100m up from Pau, in the wine region. The area is so beautiful and they are just incredible people! Merci à tous le monde a Pau et à bientot j’espere!
For those seriously interested in learning the language, I highly recommend such an immersion program. You will see incredible progress because the program is genuinely tailor-made for you and your needs. The team of professors is so kind and so supportive they make it an absolute pleasure to want to go back to classroom days and homework.