I have dinner provided in my foyer Monday through Friday from 7:00 pm to 8:15 pm. And these dinners are not cafeteria dinners. One night we have oysters, one night lamb. A few nights ago my roommate, a 24 year-old law student from Spain, invited me to eat with her and some French girls she had met in the foyer. Most of the girls I have met, who live on our foyer, are the girls that are from other countries. Not that I don’t want to meet Parisian or French girls, I just really haven’t had the opportunity and I have met the other girls by chance. So anyway, of course I said yes to my roommate’s invitation.
Once we sat down at a table, I was sitting next to a girl, who either did not speak French or did not want to. I didn’t really know her, but she does programs at our foyer to get to know Paris and other social events (at least that is what I gathered). So I told her that I was doing volunteer work throughout my semester at Belleville. And thus far, this conversation was not going very smoothly. It was loud in the dining hall and so I had to keep asking her to repeat herself. Other conversations were going on at our table, just not an ideal situation to have a conversation in French, a language that I barely speak. We had just had our first week at the Catholic Institute, so I decided to say this. This isn’t a very difficult statement. So I started in French and I said, “Á institute d’Catholic, il y a beaucoup beau fils.” And right after I said it she looked at me confused and I thought ‘that wasn’t right.’ So I looked at Carly, my friend who was sitting on the other side of me, and I said, “What is ‘boys’ in French?” And she starts laughing and said “garçon or homme”. Wait what did you just say?” I started laughing and probably turned beet red. Thankfully, it was loud and I don’t think the French girl heard most of what I said. But afterward I told Carly that I had said “fils” which is girls and we just laughed for thirty minutes without speaking.
It’s crazy to me that I could get “fils” and “garçon” mixed. They are probably two of the first words that I learned in French. But I did. When I told my director about this incident, she said that it’s not a big deal and happens often when you’re learning French in an environment where you have no choice but to just speak. But it doesn’t take away the embarrassment.