The French student trip to New Caledonia was very far away, then suddenly it was very close. It was exciting to be accepted to go on this trip, and a wonderful opportunity, a gift, from the Australian government via the New Colombo Plan. I am grateful to Flinders for making this happen.
When you haven’t visited a country before, you don’t really know what to expect. So I only had some vague ideas. I knew there was a group of us (9), and for me that is a welcome novelty as usually I travel alone. People to share the experience with? Fantastique! We had a lot of support before the ‘big day’ to make sure we were well prepared – no nasty surprises. To be immersed in a country where everyone speaks French, you can’t get more ‘authentique’ than that. And to learn and travel at the same time, for me ‘c’est la vie’ that I want.
My main hope was to progress my French. At uni, the maximum number of contact hours per French topic is 2-3 per week, not what you would call immersion. From personal experience I know that the best way to talk, think, even dream (!) in French is to be in a place where it is sensurround. New Caledonia has never been on my wish list of places to go, but now I realise there is a French speaking country right on Australia’s doorstep. I’ve been to France three times, and it’s always an ordeal to get there. But 5 hours and voila!
So New Caledonia, here I come!
Andrea (Lee) Rankin, Bachelor of Letters (French) (Graduate Entry) student participated in the program “Understanding New Caledonia: New perspectives and traditions” in November- December 2019. The program was funded by the New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant (short term).