Right now, I’m in one of the world’s best tourism hotspots: Paris.
“Que est-ce que vous voulez boire?” *”What do you want to drink?”
“Jus d’orange!” *”Orange juice!”
This conversation happened in the plane and it got me very excited to finally speak their language or strike up a conversation with the Parisians. However before the flight attendant got to my row I practiced saying ‘Jus d’orange’ about ten times. It unnerved the HELL out of me.
What if I say it wrongly? What if I offend him? What if he thinks if I’m just another one of those foreigners who only knows how to say ‘bonjour’ and ‘au revoir’? (This fear stems from the moment a receptionist scolded me for using a word the wrong way in a question. I have been very cautious with my words after that)
I managed to say it properly and this I know when the flight attendant smiled while grabbing the can of orange juice I requested for. Shaun 1 Parisians 0! WOOHOO!
Then there was the taxi ride to the hotel. I had no idea what to or how to ask the driver when we were going to reach or how far we still had left. My family knew I went for classes. So with that came the terrifyingly high expectation of being that translator they never had. A translator which they spent so much money. PER HOUR.
When a question was asked in French, I couldn’t utter the answer. My lips? Clenched. My brain? Frozen.
During dinner I asked for warm water in French. “L’eau chaude, s’il vous plait,” I uttered, without any confidence. *chaude means warm.
Then came a bottle of cold tap water. Damn it.
So long self-esteem, see you never!
Then it hit me. The beginning is always daunting, with thoughts of settling in as a student in University of Leeds lucid. So tomorrow, I shall ask the receptionist for the room key correctly.
Instead of vingt zéro trois (twenty zero three), I will ask for deux cents trois. I only found out about the correct way after blatantly making the mistake in front of him (which left me totally embarrassed) but at least right now I know the right way.
The gist today? Make a mistake. So you will never need to make it again.