You may not think that buying a loaf of bread is difficult, but for me it was. One of my first challenges while living in France was walking into the boulangerie, asking for a loaf of bread and finding the correct change. Next it was ordering cheese at the cheese counter and then buying stamps at the post office. After a few weeks I didn’t think twice about buying bread or going to the post office, yet these accomplishments were nothing compared to “The Phone Call”.
My language professor gave me the number of a girl who wanted to exchange English conversation for French conversation. I called her to set up a time when we could get together and talk. It is one thing to stand at the cheese counter when you can point to what you want, but on the phone, well that was a different story.
I prepared a short dialogue — which is what we did in class — so I would remember what to say. My heart pounded as I walked slowly towards the phone booth reviewing my lines.
I read my lines.
What did she say? That wasn’t on my sheet!
Somehow I made it through the conversation. Of course that didn’t mean that I understood everything that she said or even that I said what I meant. All I really knew was that I had invited her over for dinner on Saturday –or did I say Sunday?
View the original print magazine where this article was first published.