Parlez-vous anglais?

That has become our go-to phrase this first full week in France.

“Parlez-vous anglais?” is usually then followed by either both parties attempting to communicate in a language they aren’t fully comfortable with or a lot of pointing. There have been a few people who have spoken English well that stick out to us.

First, the woman at Aubencafé, which is easily my favorite café to visit. The sandwiches are incredible (including “le hot-dog,” which is literally a hot dog with ketchup, cheese and mayonnaise in a baguette) and the woman behind the counter recognized the fear in our eyes and immediately switched to perfect English.

She told us about her daughter that goes to Louisville and plays golf and mentioned that she had been to UNC for a tournament recently. I was very excited to hear someone mention a place I actually recognized, instead of just smiling and nodding along.

She even recognized us today as we entered again feeling much more confident in our surroundings, but still timid. She chatted with us about our apartment we selected a few days ago, as well as the bank account we created just minutes before. “Welcome to France!” she called out, and it really did feel like a big hug, even from a stranger behind a counter.

The other person who sticks out in my mind most was a cashier at Monoprix, which is basically like a SuperTarget. It’s a grocery store with a small clothing store upstairs. We Have also found a second Monoprix that was much larger and seemed a bit more promising for items we aren’t planning on eating.

Anyways, the cashier on our first Monoprix visit immediately launched into a very fast string of French. I don’t think I recognized a single word except that she was maybe asking if we had a store card. (We don’t.)

“Parlez-vous anglais?” thankfully returned a large smile as she excitedly said yes! She was from Cincinnati and doesn’t speak much English now and said she always enjoys meeting other English speakers.

In our terrible jet lagged state, we glossed over the fact that she also said she is always looking for new friends that speak English, so now anytime we go to the store we look for her.

We still have a lot to learn and figure out about how Aix works but I think we’re getting better. I know I am.

I’ve graduated from freezing up and forgetting how to speak any language when ordering food, to at least speaking some strange combination of English, Italian and French.

The only way to get better is to keep practicing, which is what I have to tell myself everyday. Moving to a new country is scary enough, but throwing in a new language is even scarier. Even though, I can’t wait to see what the next week holds for us.