“So you get a degree by going on holiday?” my parents ask incredulously. Language degrees are fairly unique in that a year studying or working abroad is obligatory. When I told my parents about this, they immediately interpreted it as twelve months spent on some beach in the south of France, slugging copious amounts of red wine and eating enough crusty bread to feed an army.
“Translate this book into English!” my first year flatmate demands, throwing a copy of Les Miserables onto my bed. Oh, how I wish I could nonchalantly pick up a Hugo masterpiece and roll off a few paragraphs on the spot. But three weeks into my degree, I could barely form a sentence without a glaring mistake being noted by my tutor.
“Do they really wear, you know, berets and stripy shirts?” a particularly innocent friend enquires. Yes. Just like every English person wears bells around their shins and waves handkerchiefs in the air.
“You study French yet you’ve never been to *insert name of miniscule village here*?!” say French people indignantly. Have you ever visited Dolton? Redditch? Ashby de la flippin’ Zouch?
“I know loads of French! Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?” says every drunk guy ever upon learning of my degree subject. I also know quite a bit of French, mate. Parle à mon cul, ma tête est malade is a personal favourite and an appropriate response.