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(Left to right) Nat with her family in Paris; Nat holding a large snake; Nat with her family in Chicago

When I was six years old, my parents moved me to Paris, France for work. I had to learn French from scratch, as did they. But while they got to take beginner college classes, I had to learn by immersion in French public school. It was hell. My teachers didn’t know what to do with this little blonde child who they couldn’t understand. A few of the teachers spoke English, but that was it. My teacher just handed me a French crossword puzzle every day while everyone else worked on math, science, and grammar. So I would breathe in all the language around me in hopes that I’d pick something up.

One day, while working on a crossword about the letter E, it suddenly just clicked. Out of nowhere, I could understand what the teacher was saying. It was the strangest feeling.

After four years of living there, we moved back to the States. I was now back to using my native tongue at school, and without a chance to use French every day, it faded from my memory. When I got to high school (after I moved again), I was determined to get it back. I took French classes all through high school, and I can safely say that I’ve gained it back. Now, I’m a French major with plans to become an English teacher in France or somewhere in Africa. I’m also planning on starting Arabic next semester, and possibly take some Portuguese. We’ll see how it goes.