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Tara O’Halloran, University of Alabama

05 Apr 2017

My name is Tara and I have just completed my first TalkAbroad conversation for my French class. The assignment was to have a conversation about any of the following subjects: icons, fashion, politics, environmental issues of food. I talked to Camille Leblanc for a 30-minute session and had a really positive experience. Before the conversation, I was extremely nervous, and although I’ve been taking French classes for years now, I still lack confidence while speaking the language. I thought this conversation was going to be a disaster.

When Camille answered, my nerves went into overdrive, but her calm and cheery personality eased my nerves pretty quickly. We first introduced ourselves and began a conversation about what we were currently studying in school and why. We then talked about fashion and discovered we both like to wear comfortable clothes and how, as students, it’s expensive to buy really nice clothing like what I will need for my future career in business. The conversation quickly flowed into how much we both like to travel, as she is currently studying abroad and I also have experience studying abroad. She told me that it was hot where she was studying and I shared some difficult experiences with hot weather, like how I managed to get sunburned in Ireland.

The conversation never had a chance to lull because Camille constantly gave me opportunities to ask all the questions I had prepared before the session. Other than my question about where she was studying abroad, one of my favorite parts of the conversation is when I asked if Camille drinks coffee and how she orders it. She responded first by commenting on the uniqueness of the question and then began to tell me how she likes her coffee. From there, we got into a conversation about whether we prefer Starbucks versus local coffee shops and Keurigs and espresso machines. I got to explain how my university has a Starbucks on campus that I go to often, however I prefer local coffee shops because they closely resemble the ones I frequented while abroad in Prague.

Even though I had questions prepared and asked the majority of them, the session never felt like an interview and stayed true to the purpose of TalkAbroad, which is to have a conversation with a native speaker of a different language. Ultimately I would consider this conversation a success and was surprised how quickly a 30-minute conversation can fly by. I am glad to say I am looking forward to my next conversation on TalkAbroad.