Une Interview Avec Martina Piñeiros

Frani O’Toole [caption id="attachment_3931" align="alignnone" width="300"]Rennes, France. Rennes, France.[/caption] For almost a year now, Latin has missed the style, sass, sincerity, and smarts of junior Martina Piñeiros. Last September, Martina left to spend a year in France as part of the Student Year Abroad (SYA) program. As much as I would have given to interview her over some coffee and croissants in a café in France, I was happy to ask her a few questions for the Forum last week over the internet. Responding from Barcelona (!), here is what Martina had to say:   F: How did you become interested in French freshman year? What interested you about SYA France? M: My first language is Spanish so I figured learning another romance language wouldn’t be a bad idea. I did not know about SYA until sophomore year when Cori, an alumna came to my French class and spoke about the program. I knew I wanted to live abroad at some point, and the idea of living abroad at 17 years old simply fascinated me. The full immersion in the language and the culture were, however, the most interesting components.   F: What was the immediate adjustment like? How were those first few weeks in France? M: The switch was quite abrupt. I clearly remember getting off the plane and going into the Charles DeGaulle Airport and automatically having to switch to speaking French… more like “franglais” as we like to call it. My first few weeks in France felt like a prolonged sleepover at a friend’s house. My host family was very welcoming from the start, so I felt as if I had known them forever. The day I got here, we ate dinner together as we do any other night, and it was there that I learned my first French culture lesson – dinner isn’t over once the food is over. The first couple of weeks went by very fast, and they required numerous references to the English-French dictionary, but overtime time slowed down.   F: What’s the school like? What’s it like to take classes in French? What classes are you taking? M: Our school is a home—literally. The building is an old house that was donated to SYA a couple of years ago, and has been rearranged to meet our needs. Our classes take place in what used to be bedrooms and a kitchen, but since we’re such a small school, it only brings us closer. I’m currently taking six classes in French; Art History, French History, French Literature, CESF (French culture & society), grammar and Pronunciation. All of these classes have helped me to develop skills in each of their domains that can be applied to any language; all while developing my French grammar and vocabulary.   F: Can you talk a little bit about the family you’re staying with? M: My family and I clicked from the start. I have three siblings and a French mom with whom I get along very well. We spend about 90% of the time in the kitchen cooking, or drinking coffee and talking about anything. I owe a big part of my improvement in French to them. Like my host mom says, “One can only learn French while cooking.”   F: What have been your favorite things about France? M: When a foreigner thinks France they often think Paris, latest fashion trends, and bread but pointing out my favorite things about France is as hard as choosing a cheese at the marché, there’s just so much to say. One thing I love from France, more specifically Rennes, is the clear sense of identity. The further you get away from Paris, the more you see the true colors of France. It’s a whole different world that has not yet been touched by the fast-paced rhythm of big city life. And yes, the bread is absolutely delicious but it’s even better when you’re sharing it with your host family over breakfast accompanied by freshly brewed coffee.   F: What are some things you miss about Chicago? M: Other than the obvious (my family and friends) what I miss the most about Chicago is probably the fact that if you’re hungry at 10 o’clock at night you can go nearly anywhere and find something at an open restaurant. Here, unless you’re in a big city, if you didn’t eat dinner at 8, you’re going to go to bed with a growly stomach.   F: Maybe one funny anecdote if one comes to mind? M: The first weekend I went out with my host mom took me to the best patisserie in town, (which was next door to a perfume shop) to buy some macaroons. She had asked me what my favorite “parfum” was, so me, thinking she wanted to know the name of my perfume, responded “anything with a hint of sandalwood”. She looked very confused, and picked out chocolate and caramel macaroons. Only then did I realize that “parfum” also meant flavor… Oh boy.. Martina will be heading home on May 28th. We can’t wait to have you back, Martina!]]>