My daughter is participating in a short-term foreign exchange program and yesterday we picked up the girl we are hosting for the next three weeks. She’s very sweet and her English is quite good – though it’s interesting when we run across a word she doesn’t know in English and I never learned in French (like hedgehog, which she has as a pet; fortunately, she had a picture).
In the afternoon we went to a friend’s graduation party and before long, I could see her eyes glazing over – whether from travel fatigue or cultural overload it’s difficult to say. It’s so overwhelming to be suddenly immersed in a language that is not your native tongue; I remember how lost I felt when I went to France, and I had prepared and taken classes to brush up on my vocabulary. It is mentally exhausting to be translating constantly, and at such an informal event (the grad party) there was plenty of slang and fast talking, which makes it even more challenging.
I dare say my daughter will be in over her head when she goes to France… Two years of high school French just do not prepare you to converse with native speakers. But they seem to be getting along well and I think they are going to have a lot of fun together this summer. Hopefully she got a good night’s sleep; today they are venturing to the mall.