Independent University Newspaper
Copenhagen Business School

Popular searches:

Independent University Newspaper

Copenhagen Business School

C’est la vie might cure all your problems… for now anyway

Photo: Private

Go on exchange |   08. Dec 2022

Sanja Ninkovic

Blogger

What if I told you that I went on exchange to Paris (France, not Texas), have been here for two months, and still have so many things left to explore?

Just short of everything being new and exciting during my exchange semester, and feeling like I am constantly running into new people, means that having to introduce myself to someone new has become part of my not-so-mundane daily routine.

Still, I must confess that quite possibly one of the most dreadful questions I get asked in most conversations outside the supermarket is “Do you speak French?”.

It’s lurking on the please- don’t-ask-me-that list right below the “So… where are you from?… No, I mean, ACTUALLY?” interrogation that comes after replying that I am Danish and hoping for the best (hint: this comes off as xenophobic, so I suggest waiting for people to open up about their cultural background to you, when they feel comfortable doing this).

The answer to the French speaking question is always an embarrassing and apologetic “no”– especially to a Frenchman.

As your friendly, oversharing, fellow CBS student, I strongly advise you to learn the basics before going on your exchange semester– it’s a no-brainer.

I didn’t do this, because well, you might have read the semi-formal complaint that was my previous blog post of how stressful this summer was.

I wasn’t really left with much of a choice–even though “being busy” sounds like a bad excuse– since I had to prioritise my health over learning how to conjugate.

Don’t fret, though! I am met with politeness and friendliness even if I don’t speak French. It does pose some obstacles for me, however, as it gets me in some awkward situations, where people first assume that I’m French and go on to ask me very elaborate questions, only for me to answer with a dumbfounded “Désolé, je ne parle pas français”.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been stopped and asked for directions on the street or in the metro so far and been reminded of the crippling inadequacy of my language skills.

The Parisian metro has made me realise that I underestimated how underwhelming it feels to not be able to speak the language.

It’s lurking on the please- don’t-ask-me-that list right below the “So... where are you from?... No, I mean, ACTUALLY?” interrogation that comes after replying that I am Danish.

It might be a personal thing, but it does make me a bit sad that I cannot just join in on every conversation and not be confused about the loud and incoherent announcement over the intercom.

For my own sanity and the sake of others (including my friends who have to listen to me stating that ”I really need to start learning French” approximately once every hour), I have finally started learning French.

Illustration: Giphy

Remember how the phrase “that’s life” was this summer’s hottest coping mechanism? It still works, but now I feel like I’m in a magical twilight zone where my every day, objectively boring Copenhagen life doesn’t exist; I am ’c’est la vie-ing’ all over the place.

That’s what I said when I realised that I won’t have time to learn enough French to save my life.

I won’t be in Paris long enough to learn more than the basics, but I sure am enjoying that while I am here.

This has been my longwinded way of telling you to not repeat my mistake of knowing only a total of ten words before you pack your suitcases.

What was not a mistake, was my resolution to go on exchange. I never had doubts about that, and I do not think you should either.

If you are having cold feet about going on exchange in the future, take this as a sign to apply to that place that intrigues you, or that you see yourself potentially relocating to in the future.

Again, it’s not the end of the world to not speak the local language, at least not in France. People do appreciate it when you try, however, and a simple acknowledgement of your lacking skills (and a “bonjour/bonsoir”, are essential) means that people are still polite and willing to help. That’s the best advice that I can give you for now. Bon courage!

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

C’est la vie might cure all your problems… for now anywayby

  • News

    A week in the life of a CBS student

    Want an exclusive glimpse of how another student has organised his everyday life? CBS Wire asked a student to journal what he did for a whole week. Learn about Magnus’ busy life juggling studies, political campaign work, sports – and dating. And tips from a CBS student guidance counsellor on how to structure your day.

  • Blog

    Homesickness – the most unexpected feeling

  • News

    A trip to Italy inspired Francesca and Fannar to open their own pasta boutique

    Thanks to two CBS graduates, Copenhagen now has a pasta boutique where you can buy freshly made pasta. Francesca Tenze and Fannar Hannesson had never thought they would end up running a food business. But, a trip to food-Mecca Bologna inspired them to quit their jobs and start their own company, La Fresca, modelled on the traditional Italian concept.

  • News

    CBS Associate Professor starts YouTube channel on compliance: “We must communicate research differently”

    For Associate Professor Kalle Johannes Rose, his YouTube channel about risk-based compliance serves many purposes. It is both a personal tool to help him structure and explain the material as well as an opportunity to reach out to people working with compliance and for them to ask questions before he finishes a new book. He believes that researchers should think differently about how they communicate their research, and that CBS could do a better job of helping them.

  • Gif of the week
  • News

    Three emails revive old conflict between CBS and course company Aspiri

    Several students have received emails from the course company Aspiri asking for their Canvas password in return for free courses. The CBS legal department warns students against giving away their passwords – it compromises IT security and is illegal.

  • News

    Start-up founded in a CBS entrepreneurial class sells for millions

    What started as a business case in class - AI for solving GDPR issues - has turned into fulltime employment and a multi-million kroner deal for two former CBS students.

  • News

    Mental health issues? Where to get help

    If you have mental health issues or personal problems, CBS can help. If you have a chronic mental health problem, you can receive help through the SPS programme. For personal problems, you can team up with a mentor through the CBS mentor programme or talk to the campus pastor, who is happy to help regardless of religion.

Follow CBS students studying abroad

CBS WIRE collaborates with Videnskab.dk

Stay connected

Close