Est-ce que je parle Francais? NO!!! I'm absolutely terrible which has made for quite an interesting experience on my trip thus far. I arrived in Paris yesterday afternoon and was SO relieved when I was able to have a conversation in French with a security guard about my travel plans. Amazingly enough, I understand a fair amount of what's being said around me. But speaking the language is an entirely different story when you haven't really practiced in 5 years!
I had decided that instead of taking a taxi or a shuttle to my hotel, I would venture out and use the RER/metro system to get from Charles de Gaulle to Orlly airport and I knew my hotel was somewhere in that vicinity, so...After almost 3 hours on the public transportation system, I know feel completely confident that I could get you anywhere in Paris. :) The experience wasn't entirely bad, despite the fact that I managed to buy the wrong train ticket and had to have a relatively complicated conversation with the train controller. In all honestly, I think that I would prefer to stay on the metro as much as possible. There's a certain level of familiarity with the public transportation that reminds me of NYC and HOME!!!
By the time I made it to my hotel, I was absolutely ecstatic to see my unbelievably tiny room and to break out my French dictionary so I could figure out what the HECK was going on around me. After dinner at a restaurant with an unbelievably friendly waiter, my outlook had on my situation had improved about 150%!
This really is amazing! I love being surrounded by a different culture and a different language. As inconvenient as it seems, no one will speak English to me, which means that I have to sink or swim! When you're in that type of situation, you start remembering your vocabulary a lot faster. I can now understand why the initial stages of a mission would be so frustrating, but I also envy the missionaries: they have a companion! So it's on to Nice, where I intend to take an amazing nap on the beach (weather allowing). Chalk Day #1 up to an intense education!