Aghhhhh!!!!! That's the best way to put my level of frustration with myself and my inability to contribute to conversations yet when they are in French. For those of you unaware, St. Barth's is French so it's the first language spoken pretty much every where we go. My ability to parler Fraincais ne c'est pas bien. Basically, I stink. And it's this inability to speak French that is really the most isolating thing for me right now.
It's frustrating because its what is being spoken in our circle of friends, ok HIS friends. Most are beyond generous and speak to me in English but i WANT to be able to speak French and its far more natural for them to speak French. For those of you who know me well know that when I want to learn something or do something, I can generally do. But this French thing is taking a lot longer than I thought and I am getting frustrated. I took 2 years in High School and another 2 semesters in college but apparently that all left me a long long time ago.
What's amazing is that I do understand what is being said. And I can read it and even write it if pressed. But the ability to speak it, in real-time - not a chance. So basically what happens is I sit and I listen, A LOT of listening. I can almost always get the basic context and respond with short statements from time to time, but I can't contribute or state my point of view. This for me is very difficult. It's so hard to describe the feeling - it's almost like being completely aware of everything around you but not being able to react. It's extremely isolating and can have me feeling very alone when I am surrounded by a group of people. It's definitely one of the hardest parts of being here. I don't think I have been this silent so often ever.
Now it's not all bad. I am able to communicate a little bit. I can read menus in French, I am comfortable going shopping for basics. Basically, when I don't have my crutch I can get by. But I still can't participate in conversations. So today I am setting a personal goal for myself, by the time we say "oui" on August 17th, I will at least be able to answer in full sentences when people are speaking around me. Au revoir!