The exciting part of my trip to France was not only about setting foot in my dream destination. It was also the idea of working and collaborating with the French people. At first, I was overwhelmed given my limited French communication skills. It didn’t turn out so bad. Here are three take-away points from my experience.
Communication is not a barrier
We spent a part of our afternoons having coffee under the tree and talking about anything. The conversation is mostly French. In fact, there was a time when I was physically in the middle of a conversation in French for a solid 5 minutes without understanding the idea of the conversation. One of them just patted me on the back, gave me a smile, and said, “This is good practice, Chino!”
These conversations did not hinder me to do my work well. Using the words, “Désolé, je ne parle pas francais” is no excuse to not contribute in unfamiliar territory. My French colleagues did not expect me to be fluent in French but they also went ahead their way and helped me share my ideas with them. Although, I must say that there was one time when we had difficulty with translation — and we all shared good laughs!
Teamwork shares a universal language
Despite differences in culture, we all had the same goals. The best way to achieve these goals is if we worked together. Of course, all of us encountered some setbacks but we picked each other up. One of my memorable moments was during a frustrating day in my classes. I was running out of patience that I shouted at one student for his antics. At break, I shared this experience to my French colleagues. I wanted to share it en Francais but I struggled with some words. It meant a lot that they appreciated my concern and listened to me. Even my colleague, Antoine, who had very limited English proficiency was excited to hear my story.
This is what makes our world a great place to live in — people from different backgrounds want to see you succeed despite the language you can communicate with.
Je voudrais apprendre l’anglais aussi!
While most of my French colleagues can also speak English, I noticed most of them doing activities to improve their English. One of them approached me and ask if he could practice his English with me. Another one shared his experience of going to Galway, Ireland to learn English while another one expressed his interest to take English training in London in the near future. A bunch of other people wanted to learn the prayers in English. I guess the excitement of learning languages is a two-way street!
On y va!