Some random things that I’ve done recently:
“Potable” or “Non-potable”. This is the sign we’re supposed to look for when we see a fountain (of which Aix has many). Of course none of the fountains I’ve seen say any such thing, so I resorted to asking some random woman with a dog. Of course I could have reasoned on my own whether the fountain’s water was drinkable (in hindsight anyhow), but it’s never a bad idea to practice some French with new people.
During our one hour break in the middle of our first day of the Early Start Program, I and 7 others bought food from a small sandwich place. I overheard a British guy (he was speaking with a heavy British accent so I assume he’s from England) making fun of how I ordered my food: “Je voudrais…” (I would like…). If I try to imagine one American speaking to another, it wouldn’t make much sense to say “I would like…” all the time when buying sandwiches…anyway, practice makes parfait.
I walked up to what I thought was a shoe store, only to find that they did not in fact sell des chaussures, but chausettes (socks). I was pointed in the correct direction, and I walked in and looked at the shoes. Sadly, I ended up not making a purchase since the only shoes I liked were size 46, and I’m a size 44. While I was in this store, I saw/heard a large group of students walking outside, shouting, and carrying flags. I walked up to a girl and asked her “Vous me veulez dire quoi…?” or something like that. If there’s one aspect of French I really need to work on it’s asking people questions. Somehow speaking (or trying to speak) a language other than your own makes it easier to speak to random people. I eventually learned from a guy who spoke good English that it was a group of students who would start political science school the next day. They were in fact, au contraire to what I’d thought at first, very excited rather than angry. When I asked if it was Occupy, the guy said no, but he wished it was.
I eventually did buy shoes. It’s enjoyable trying to speak Français with people. Especially since many speak “pas de tout Anglais” (not English at all). Contrast that with Hambourg, in which it’s almost impossible to find someone who doesn’t have good English.
I ate a crêpe recently. It was pretty good, and then I accidentally got a lot of sugar on my map. Fortunately it’s still readable.