The Thankful Project: A Failure

November 6, 2013
Today I'm linking up with Kenzie @ Chasing Happy to talk about a failure that I am thankful for having.

There have been bits and pieces of my grandmother's French-Canadian background woven into my childhood memories for as long as I can remember.  My grandma's parents, two native French speakers,  left a place called Sherbrooke, Quebec and emigrated to the United States.  They lived in Massachusetts, where my grandmother and her siblings were born and raised.  Although they lived in the U.S., this did not change the fact that the language that was spoken in my grandmother's home was French.  Additionally, all the children in my grandma's family attended a French-speaking school.  My mother chose to study French as a foreign language when she was in high school as well.  Both my grandmother and mother would incorporate little French phrases while speaking to my siblings and I.  It wasn't very frequent, but it was enough to leave an impression on me.  "Brossez-vous les dents," they would tell us when when they wanted us to brush our teeth, for example.  A few French traditions were also brought into our household.  Every time my grandmother visited, she would make her special crepes for us.  

When it came time for me to pick a language to study in the 8th grade, naturally I chose French.  I continued to study it for four years in high school, and it was the one subject in school I always looked forward to taking.  At the high school I attended, every teacher is supposed to pick one student in the grade to honor with an award for the highest marks and I always got the one for French.  When it came time to pick a major in college, I knew I had to stick with what I loved and chose to continue my study of the French language.  This culminated in me spending nine months in France where I was enrolled in a French immersion school.  Needless to say, I returned back in America being able to communicate well in the language.  I finished up my senior year of college and tried to think of how to pursue French further.  A lot of my friends signed up to be a teaching assistant in France, which was open to French majors.  The drawback to that is that the pay was terrible at about only 800 Euros a month.  With that money, you had to pay rent and bills and buy all of your groceries.  I just didn't think that this was the best decision for me financially because I had some student loans to pay off.  A friend of mine from Minnesota who had studied abroad in France with me told me that she did some research and that there were great teaching opportunities in Korea.  She persuaded me to go there with her and I put off my study of French.  After returning from my year abroad in Korea, again I wanted to try to find a job with French, so I looked into becoming a nanny in France.  That would have been beneficial to both myself and the host family, as I could help them improve their English and they could also help me with my French.  Unfortunately, it was very difficult for me to find families to nanny for in France at the time, but there were a great deal of Italian families interested in having au pairs.  I decided to go with it and lived in Italy for a year instead.  Instead of continuing on with French, I learned Italian, a whole new language.  From Italy, I decided to go back to Korea, where I stayed for two more years teaching English as a Second Language.  Because of my mostly positive experience teaching overseas, I decided that I wanted to pursue education and enrolled in a Master's program so that I could earn both my degree and get my teaching license.

It has now been years upon years since I have even had a chance to speak French at all.  I'm sure that there are probably a few native French speakers where I live, but there just really isn't an opportunity to converse with anyone in French on a regular basis.  Because I have been unable to practice my French, I have forgotten a great deal of the language, especially how to conjugate many of the verbs in different tenses.  Since I haven't kept up with my French, I would consider this to be one of my biggest failures.  I was a French/International Studies double major in college, but I rarely admit to people now that I even studied French because I feel sort of embarrassed by how much I've regressed.  I know that this naturally happens quite often, but I just wish I would have tried harder to keep up with it.  Peut-etre un jour...

This brings me to the part where I explain why I am thankful for my failure.  If I had gone on to become a teaching assistant in France, I wouldn't have gone to Korea to teach.  Teaching in Korea was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had, and I wouldn't want to take that back for anything!  Being a teacher influenced my decision to go into education and changed my path in life.  I may not have pursued the field of education if I hadn't taught in Korea for three years.  Although I have my regrets about not keeping up with my French, in some ways I am glad that I failed at this because it altered the course of my life.  I would not be who I am today if I did not nanny in Italy, live abroad in Korea for three years, and then study early childhood education for three more years.  Instead of thinking that my knowledge of the French language has "gone to waste," I try to think of it as something that guided me to where I needed to be.

What failures are you thankful for?

2 comments on "The Thankful Project: A Failure"
  1. I know what you mean about not admitting you were a French major. . .I was an Italian major, but it fell by the wayside as I taught English in Korea. I've been wanting to keep up with it for the past four years, but never seem to get around to actually doing it. I regret losing my (not that impressive) skills, but I do like to think of my Italian studies as something valuable that guided me to Italian literature and opera.

    1. I wish I had time/another opportunity to study it all over again. If I could get paid to be a professional student of French or Italian, that would be a dream come true! ;)