It Is No Longer Speaking, It Is Understanding - My Family Travels

The clouds were threatening to burst open as my dad and I were walking along the streets of Paris. This dark skyline did not make the city any less desirable, perhaps it just enhanced my need to belong. I was in love with Paris. Although I had been here once before when I was younger, I had forgotten my true feelings for this city. It was the reason why I had taken French class instead of Spanish like all my friends. But now, I remembered. The buildings, the weather, the people, the language, and of course: the food.

â–º  honorable mention 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship

My dad and I had been wandering the city for hours, just exploring my future home and enjoying the on and off drizzling of the sky. We were hungry and I knew what I wanted: a French baguette. Being my second time in this wondrous city, I knew that the long, buttery, and most delicious sandwiches in the world were those from Paris. They cannot compare to the meager copy cats such as Subway. We pulled our coats tighter around our bodies and looked for signs of a boulangerie, or bread store. Two middle-aged woman turned suddenly around the corner, speaking frantic French and obviously fretting about something. That is when my dad noticed what they were holding the prized baguette. Before they could pass us, my dad stepped directly in front of their path, leaving me to peak over his shoulder to hear what was being said.

In his embarrassing, clearly tourist French, my dad pointed at one of the women’s baguette and shoved the question “Boulangerie?” into their flowing, French conversation. They stopped, startled, and then realized what my dad was asking. “Oui, continuez tout droit puis tournez a droite,” the woman with the baguette mumbled.  My dad, believing he was better understood if he spoke loudly, shouted: “Merci!” and turned to me for a translation. My brain buzzed and switches flicked on and I spit out “Continue straight then turn right.”

My dad took those directions and sped off. I stayed close behind him, but was not thinking about the possibility of delicious meal any longer; I was thinking about my ability to clearly understand another language! If I had not needed to translate what was said to my dad, I would have been thinking and speaking in French. I knew what was being said, and I knew its meaning in French, not English. My brain did not need to process the conversation into English, it just needed to be heard and understood. It was a revelation.

I will remember this moment my entire life. I could not believe what had just happened! Not only can I speak French, I can understand the romance language of the world. I looked at the gloomy sky and knew my wish of living here would become reality. My reason for taking French class had stood its purpose and now, I know I can live in the most beautiful city in the world and truly experience the Parisian life.

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2 Replies to “It Is No Longer Speaking, It Is Understanding”

  • Anonymous

    I know this exact feeling; you were part of the story

  • lawrenkai

    This is the moment i realized that I really could live in Paris and become one with the Parisian culture. There was no barrier; I could speak the language. It was an enlightening moment.

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