This week, I’ve decided to interview my friend Nabanita, from India. Nabanita is a very active woman and she managed to adapt very well her new French life.
Could you please present yourself to the readers of Comme une Française?
I am Nabanita, from India. My husband is a researcher at the Grenoble Ecole de Management and therefore here I am. Both of us have had over ten years of work life in India!
Tell us about your experience in France
I arrived early last year. After living apart for almost 2 years I decided to give up my job and join my husband here. I have carried on some of my work online. I have also joined the GGSB MSc in Management Consulting Programme.
How was your arrival?
Because I had visited France earlier, frankly, I didn’t suffer any shock so to speak. And my husband being here made things easier. Plus we had some French friends, an excellent landlady and some great neighbours.
Did you speak French when you arrived? And now? Do you feel ok? Did you take lessons? How did you learn?
Only four words and phrases: Merci, au revoir, bonne journée and Je m’appelle Nabanita!
Thanks to the lessons at CUEF, Universite Stendhal and the lessons at GEM, I am more comfortable with the language, though I have miles to go. I think the best way to go about it us to practice with a native speaker. While one tends to pick up the speech, comprehension is the real challenge. The French do speak “très vite”!
What is the most important thing you’ve learnt since you moved? What was your biggest mistake?
The biggest mistake was not making the time to learn the language in India where the classes are so much cheaper;CUEF though excellent charges 680€ for 80 hours of their Cours Intensif.
The big learning is that if you want to feel welcomed you need to make the effort to speak the language. People feel reassured when thy see you making the effort, doesn’t matter if your diction isn’t perfect or if you are messing up the conjugation!
What is still difficult for you?
I think comprehension; as I said, the French speak really fast and the liaison could be tricky for English speakers!
What do you miss from India?
I miss the food and my friends.
What do you prefer in France compared to India?
I think the peace and quiet, the delicious fromage and of course the treks in the mountains.
How do you see the future? Are you planning on staying?
I think I will have to be here for two more years. I have been fortunate in having some good friends…my family could visit too.
Could you give 3 advices to women who have just moved to France?
Learn the language, as much as you can.
It will be hard after the initial excitement wears off, but it helps to remember that cultural differences notwithstanding, people over the world aren’t fundamentally very different.
And finally, take it as a challenge!