We’ve been here in Massy for nearly three weeks now and it’s been a very busy time so far. Our days are just about filled with lessons and homework (we get quite a lot), then there’s prayer and Bible reading, food shopping, cooking, eating, cleaning… oh, and a little bit left over for sleeping!
Our understanding from previous students is that after a while you settle into a rhythm and things get a bit less frantic. We’re looking forward to that. We hope to take the occasional Saturday trip by bus or train out into the countryside (we’ve a couple of places in mind to explore), or into central Paris. Massy has very good transport links.
In my class (Chris, A2 “consolidating”) we are racing through grammer at what seems a furious pace. For those who know a bit of French: since starting on 5 January we have covered describing people physically and in personality, comparisons, passé composé tense, imparfait tense, futur proche and futur simple tenses, and on Monday we start the subjonctif. I had my first test this week (results are due on Monday). Joanna’s class (A1) is similarly busy but not quite so frantic.
For both of us, lessons seem to be a mix of “Ah, I see, yes that’s clear” and “I don’t have the faintest idea what the teacher is on about…” According to other students that’s normal and it does get better. All of our lessons are 100% in French (otherwise the teacher would have to be translating constantly into and from English, Dutch, German, Italian, Portuguese, Korean…), which demands total concentration.
So that’s the “bang, bang, bang” of the title: the school wants to make sure we make rapid progress, so sometimes it feels like having a “French language gun” fired at you!
We went to open our French bank account at lunchtime on Thursday, at Société Générale. They have a tie-up with the school which makes the process easier. The whole interview was in French (lots of re-explaining was needed at various stages). The volume of paperwork was incredible: after about 20 minutes of the lady filling in stuff on her computer, she leant down and retrieved from her laser printer a wad of paper maybe 2cm thick. She then proceeded to explain it all and request signatures in various places. We hope we haven’t agreed to anything too drastic…
Having a French account will save us money on exchange costs and so on, as well as making life simpler. There are some interesting differences to UK banking. For example, we’ll get debit cards, but there is a strict limit on the amount you can spend on them per month (no matter how much money is in the account) and the number of free cash withdrawals is limited too. None of this is any problem for us.