January: busy! I took my last exams (economy was a nightmare, but my Exorcist presentation went really well), started my new program, moved, and went through two weeks of intensive French classes.
Now all of a sudden it's February! My new program is good. The classes are wonderful, I like a few of the people a lot, my new host family is amazing...everything is going well. I'm super busy: last semester I had lots of fun with American friends in Paris, this semester I've decided I'm going to buckle down and really work. I'm taking two ballet classes a week (I look like an old lady in tights when I dance, but whatever, I'm really good at naming body parts in French now), I'm babysitting for two families, and doing English tutoring for two more. I'm reading the second Harry Potter book in French, which totally counts as an academic endeavor. I'm auditing an extra French class because I want the extra practice. I'm also trying to get eight hours of sleep a night because the flu is going around Paris.
My French is not fluent. My French will not be fluent by the end of this year. Fluency is sort of this very maliable concept for me. In high school, if I had heard myself speak French like I do now, I would have said, "Hell yea I'm fluent, let's move on to the next language." But now that I speak like I do, I realize that there is all this stuff I don't know: slang, which rules I can break to acheive various effects, cultural references, and sometimes some everyday word or grammar rule that still escapes me. But I do finally feel that Rachel in French and Rachel in English are almost the same person. For a long time, Rachel in French was pretty stupid, had no sense of humor, laughed at the wrong things, and didn't really understand how daily life worked. Rachel in English is often just like that, but at least she is usually aware of her betises when they are presenting themselves -- and thus gets to enjoy the resulting humiliation. (Rachel in French was also remarkably non-chalant for being such an idiot.) Now, Rachel in French is still a little dim, but she can make the occasional joke and she finally has a pretty clear understanding of the world around her. Of course, she now gets to experience the full impact of the embarrassing moments that she is often responsible for, but in order to cope with it, she usually just pulls the ignorant American card.
My friend Michelle and my mom and my grandparents are all coming to visit in the next few months! So that's exciting. My mom and Michelle are both going to stay with me because my host parents are so sweet and are letting them. Yay!