I write my first European post to say hello and tell you a little bit about my experience so far on the Cote d’Azur.

Thusfar I have spent a lot of time on the beach (I have the coup de soleil to prove it) which is just a few steps away from the residence where we are staying. I have witnessed a plethora of interesting beach characters, as you can imagine, but nothing too uncomfortable. I have also ventured into downtown Cannes nearly every day, experiencing both good hospitality and a few bad attitudes. Oh well, c’est la France.

Today, I attended mass at the local parish with my friend Drew and had my first experience with public speaking in French. As we were seated in the pews waiting for the mass to begin, an older French woman confidently approached me and asked in a whisper tone if I could do the readings during the mass. A bit taken aback, I explained that I was not French, an excuse she was unwilling to accept. So with my go-with-the-flow resolution in the back of my mind, I took the dive and read a letter from St. Paul and the Responsorial Psalm to the admittedly small and elderly congregation in French. C’etait magnifique!

My experience speaking French has been wonderful so far and, with the exception of a few minor incidents, I have been surprised by my own fluency. It has only been four days, and I have already noted a significant improvement in my spoken French.

Interestingly, I have also had plenty of opportunities to practice my Spanish. Whenever I find myself in an uncomfortable or annoying situation (for example when I come across overly-aggressive French boys in the streets), I turn on my best Spanish and let them know that I don’t understand English or French. It works like a charm.