I Met Madeline in France...no Inès!
At sixteen I would have laughed if you told me I would learn another language, "What's the point, duh...everyone speaks English." I was daft, and my knowledge was certainly lacking.
By the time I was twenty-eight, I spoke German, French was still not in my plans. Our move to France forced this issue with urgency. If you've ever been to France, you might have noticed the French don't like speaking other languages, and there wasn't an international school for our daughter, so learn I did.
During my first weeks setting up, I went to the park a lot. There I spied a well-dressed woman daily. She seemed friendly, her children were adorable sporting polished shoes matching outfits, the girl had a huge bow in her hair. She reminded me of Madeline, I thought I have indeed arrived in France. I was in complet and utter awe of their outfits.
Intrigued, I got up my nerves to introduce myself. I thought if I become friends with her maybe some of her elegance would rub off on me. I walked over, "Do you speak English?" Luckily she did but to my shock she had not been speaking French this whole time; her kids were not either... they were Spanish. I was so daft; I didn't even notice the difference between Spanish and French. I am glad I got up the courage, she is one of my dearest friends and ironically the girl was and still is quite a character... just like our dear old friend Madeline, she is not afraid and would have no problem saying, "Pooh-pooh" to that Tiger in the Zoo.
Gone are the days without French. Learning daily, flexibility and adventure have become a mainstay in my life. I hope I will look back on this phase and find something I did daft; it will be proof that I am still progressing, learning, getting ahead. This life is full of adventure and when you accept the culture, the different people you meet, listen and are open minded the most glorious things happen.
My husband always says people don't change. I agree the core doesn't change... I am still that same girl from Farmington, but I have come a long way baby.
—Allison Ochs Social Worker M.S.W. , Coach, Expat, Mother of three, Wife