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Ryan Rosenkrantz, Rhodes College

22 Sep 2017

TalkAbroad is incredible, and I’m excited to share my experience. Let me preface by saying how nervous I was. I have never spoken French with a stranger, much less a stranger online. When this activity was assigned to my class, I was incredibly anxious. I was not comfortable in my speaking ability, and I thought I was going to be embarrassed. I planned the conversation the best that I could, but I also knew that I could not completely anticipate a 30-minute conversation. The length was the part that made me most anxious. What could I talk to a stranger about, in a foreign language, for 30 minutes?

The platform was super easy to use. I was impressed with the diversity of French speakers, from various countries, and how simple it was to set up an appointment. I loved the flexibility in choosing someone to talk to based on mutual interests. I chose to speak to Geneviève as she seemed to enjoy music, like me. However, this did not do a whole lot to qualm my anxiety. It helped, but Geneviève was still a stranger. I could not stop myself from expecting the worst.

Geneviève managed to completely surpass my expectations, and I am so thankful for it. Not only was she extremely helpful, but she spoke slowly and helped me formulate my thoughts by sometimes teaching me new vocabulary. The 30 minutes completely flew by. I had an easy conservation about my school in Memphis, my home in New Orleans, and learned more about Geneviève in Montreal. I was completely surprised at how easy it was for Geneviève to understand me, no matter how I formulated my sentences. I know speaking in another language can be anxiety provoking, as it was for me, but I want to share my experiences to show the strength of the TalkAbroad team.

Geneviève and I talked about how she purposefully spoke in a way that prompted both increased conversation and understanding. She said is used to people searching for words, and she could ask questions that generated conversation. I could easily talk about my favorite TV shows and movies, and she shared her Taylor Swift addiction. I was jealous of the fact that she’s seen Adele, and she loved hearing about my school in Memphis and my home in New Orleans.

I am studying abroad in Finland next semester, and I was considering traveling to France before leaving Europe. Now that I am more confident in my speaking ability, I have decided to visit France to speak French with the locals. I am so thankful that Geneviève was the first native French speaker I met. I look forward to telling my classmates and others about how enjoyable this experience was, and, at the same time, how much it boosted my confidence in speaking French. Merci, TalkAbroad!