I’ve Arrived in France

I arrived in France Tuesday, September 1st, and I thought I’d share a few quick thoughts. I’ll try to avoid generalizations about France or the French as a whole, as I’ve only been here two weeks. Although, for the most part, I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

On Learning a Second Language

Just living in France feels like an intensive French course. I definitely prefer learning the language through immersion than with cumbersome books and recordings. Yesterday, I went to the beach, the grocery store and a festival. At no point did I set aside time to practice French, but I feel I received the equivalent of 3-4 hours of practice.

On Adjusting Your Expectations

An ability for successful traveling (or even successful living) is being able to adapt your expectations to the environment. My apartment hasn’t had internet, gas or even electricity for the last few days and won’t until at least Tuesday. I also don’t have access to a car or bicycle and I am completely unfamiliar with the bus transit system.

I’m sure those temporary conditions would have frustrated me if they spontaneously occurred in Canada. But, here, they are just another part of the adventure as I use the toilet by candlelight or take a cold, acrobatic shower in a bathtub without a curtain.

On Starting Fresh

A new city is often a blank slate. A chance to start over with new friends, new relationships and new experiences. I was very happy with my life in Canada, but I’m taking advantage of the new canvas living in a country can create. Often we hold ourselves back, trying to conform to our past image, and often it requires a shattering of that image to move forward.

A few readers were worried that the website would discontinue during my travels. I’d like to let everyone know I’m not going anywhere. I’ll try to sprinkle some updates and observations during my year abroad, but aside from the occasional mention, the website will continue as it has for the past three years.

Now I’m heading out to go buy wine for dinner, à bientôt!

  • Andres

    I’ve been doing immersion since last time I emailed you and it’s working good enough. I’ve done more japanese these months than when living in japan even though I already knew the language.
    On those temporary conditions, it sounds to me as if you were an experienced traveler already!
    keep up!
    … finally got rid of the design… still that post-it from hell…

  • John

    Hi Scott,

    For the last year I was an exchange student in US (from Europe). I hope you’re going to have amazing time just like I did. To be honest my whole life has changed throughout this year, every single aspect of myself grew in a tremendous way.

    Wish you all the best!

  • Jeffrey

    How exciting! I mustn’t have been paying attention, so I was surprised to see you’re spending a year abroad. That’s awesome.

    If you’re not getting the Internet until Tuesday, where are you linking up? Internet cafes?

    I can’t wait for more updates on the cultural differences. Finally getting to hear about France from a person I trust makes a difference.

  • Anthony

    Bonjour Scott,

    Good to hear you intend to keep posting on your blog – quick question, though – are you taking school in France, working, focusing on intensive language learning, or don’t have any idea at this point, …?

  • Scott Young


    It’s a student exchange. Right now this business is the only “job” I have.


    My friend Sophia has internet, I’m currently on her sofa plugged in. McDonalds has “free” internet too if you’re willing to eat some of the food…

  • Rob

    You only get one shot at life and learning new languages and cultures is a gift not eveyone either appreciates or understands. Enjoy your time in France, you’ll return a better and more spiritually enriched person!

  • JD

    Hi Scott –

    I’m on a 2 yr assignment with my company living in Paris. Hope you’re enjoying the life. Two pieces of advice:

    1) Bonjour monsieur/madame are the two most important words you will ever use in France. Politeness goes a long way.

    2) Make sure you visit a boulangerie every day. It’s good for your soul.

    Bon courage.

    – D

  • Stefan | StudySuccessful.com

    The beautiful country of France. I really love that country.
    I also want to learn another language, besides Dutch and English, but I am not sure which language to learn. I already know a lot of French, because I learned it at high school, but I maybe want to start from the scratch with Italian.

    Anyway, have fun there Scott!

    Au revoir