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Learning French in Paris: A MOJO's Perspective

French isn’t always easy. When you study in France people always expect you to speak French no matter how you appear, whether you look foreign or not you are expected to speak and fully understand French. Once I stepped off the plane and I walked with a large group of people to the windows where they check your passport, I thought that they might speak English but they stood strong and spoke to me fully in French. 
Before coming to France I have never taken a French class. I had never studied the language. For me all of this was new. The language, the culture, the geography - all new. It’s all French to me. As I began to speak more and more, the most common things became the most important such as ordering food or asking where something is. Everyday here is a new adventure. We learn and are always surprised. There have been great times trying to understand French and others that were a bit more difficult. 
When we first went out for coffee, my roommate and I went to a small coffee shop and attempted to pay separately. The cashier took my roommate's money, but then when I tried to give him mine, he began to speak rapid French to us. We were clueless. Just two Americans fresh off the plane, confused and struggling to buy coffee. The man then went through the change in my hand and handed the correct amount to my roommate. What we did not know is that most often everything is paid for with exact change. This was still new for us.

Parisian people can keep to themselves at times and may not be very talkative (not that I speak enough French), but often you can enter a room and sit next to someone and everyone present will mind their own business. This might not be the same as when you enter a Starbucks in the States. At my home university, everyone seems to watch when people enter or exit a room. One day while we stood on the street waiting for a friend to buy his sandwich, a friend of mine struggled with his food and as he fumbled a man in a suit came toward us. He approached us and mumbled something in French then he reached into the pocket of his expensive jacket and pulled out a napkin, gave it to my friend and moved on.  In a city where you are a foreigner and you don’t speak the language people are nice and take care of one another.

  Matt Mitchell CEA Mojo in Paris, France
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