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Taylor Kruse, Harvard University Part 3

07 May 2020

My final TalkAbroad conversation was a culmination of everything I had learned from my previous ones. As the final discussion, I wanted to choose someone closer to my home in Maine, so I decided on Emmanuelle De Vigne Blanchet, from Montreal, Canada. By this point, I set a goal for myself: I wanted the conversation to be more natural. This was one of the expectations for my French 20 class, however I felt that I was being almost robotic in my previous talks. I would ask a question, they would respond, and I would inorganically move on to my next one. Lots of times my partners would ask me a question, but that was them being more natural in the conversation, not me. I wanted to make it more like a normal interaction, like I was meeting a stranger for the first time and had no ulterior motive or agenda. This was what I sought to accomplish.

At this point I lost much of the nervousness I had to begin with. I came to expect the experience that TalkAbroad promotes: that my partner would be personable and easily able to make conversation with. I was not disappointed. Emmanuelle and I easily connected over our geographic locations, and we even talked about a summer trip she took to Maine last year. This was already the start of me achieving my goal.

For our final assignment, we were able to choose our theme, so I talked to her about her job. We had a great discussion about the many different jobs she had, including being a yoga instructor and a tutor teaching English to Chinese students. We even got into a much deeper discussion about the difference between the social structures of Canada and America, which I tried to engage with as much as possible, even with my limited vocabulary. With Emmanuelle, I was able to see my goal through. Our conversation was organic and flowed like normal. While I did ask questions relating to the theme, there were few, if any, awkward silences between them. I really saw my growth in that conversation, and I was glad to have finally achieved that in my last TalkAbroad.

This final conversation gave me the opportunity to really look back at what TalkAbroad did for me. This program really gave me a unique experience which expanded my knowledge of the French language, and how to navigate a conversation with a stranger who speaks a language you don’t fully understand. My partners were fantastic – easy going and personable, giving me the steering wheel as I tried to engage in a meaning conversation. I am very grateful to be given this opportunity by TalkAbroad. I would highly recommend them to any student or class thinking about utilizing their services! I look forward to hopefully using them again in my future studies at Harvard!