Saturday, January 27, 2007

Splitting the year

Imagine if, in this post I said "so, this is the end of my Lyon adventure: at the end of the week I move on to my new job in Milan…". It would be far too soon. We're just beginning to get used to the way life goes in Lyon, to know our friends and flatmates well, and to settle down to some kind of real routine, even do some academic work and think about what we're getting from the year. Our French is becoming more natural, and our accent is finally making some small move away from the typical franglais…but only just. It needs time to consolidate its progress. The concept of calling it a day for French and heading off to new adventures might seem exciting, but I wouldn't be ready. The time would be too short in both places so the overall gain would be less. This is why Cambridge don't advocate splitting the year in half, but rather swaying towards one language. But Cambridge are unusual, and most universities not only allow, but *require* their two-language linguists to split the year. And so it is that those who've chosen foreign university have reached the end of their first semester and are leaving, to go to new adventures in other places, make new friends, improve yet another accent. Exciting for them, but strange–and strange also for us, who have just got used to them experiencing the French life with us and are now going to continue having the same sorts of fun but without them. But when they say they've done a degree in, say French and German, they will at least be able to say, I spent my year abroad in, say, Lyon and Augsburg…it might sound better than us saying we practised our French and Italian by coming to Lyon (although, this is in fact possible, as we proved tonight while talking to an italian chef!)

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