The moment I stepped out of the terminal of the Charles-de Gaulle airport, a great wave -- no, a tsunami - of unfamiliar words crashed upon me. It scattered my senses and left me floundering, my confidence dampened. I had stood contented on my little rock of knowledge of the French language. I thought back to the past year, my freshman year of high school, to the hours spent carefully gathering concepts like a squirrel collecting nuts, swelling with self-assurance each time I formulated a basic sentence... But now I saw that my quivering little pile amounted to nothing.