René the baker

Hi René, you are a former Ifalpes student from Chinan January 2020 to improve your French. After 6 months of French lessons, face to face and online, you joined a training course in Rouen to learn the bakery profession and you are currently doing an internship in a bakery in Paris.

We would like to know a little more about your background, what led you to learn French and the bakery. If everything went well as planned or if you had small or big obstacles to overcome in your adventure.

Before your arrival in France

  • When did start your desire to come to France to learn baking and why this language and this profession ?

In the beginning, I wanted to come to France only to learn French, I didn’t think about learning baking. Why this language ? Because I like foreign languages in general, and I chose French as a speciality at my university. In China, there is very little opportunity to have a real conversation with someone in French. I think it’s better to go to France to have a context in French and also to discover the culture. And as for the bakery, it’s because I prefer artisanal rather than academic field, and French bread is renowned throughout the world. I wanted to know how a traditional French bread is made. So why not the bakery ! 

  • How do you organise yourself when you are a Chinese student in China and you want to come to France ? Is it complicated? Can you do it on your own or do you have to go through someone or an agency ?

The most important thing is to have a visa. And for the visa, you need to find accommodation in France, adequate funding, a letter of motivation, and other essential documents. I think it’s difficult and complicated to do it alone the first time. 

  • Did someone advise you to come to Ifalpes ?

Yes, the agency that helped me organize my venue.

  • Was there anything in particular that you feared before coming to France? Apart from eating snails of course 🙂

 Eating snails? Oh, I still haven’t tried it yest ! It looks so good!

I was afraid of being robbed or being discriminated. Fortunately, none of these bad things happened 🙂

Arrival in France and French improving

  • What were your first impressions when you arrived in France? Was it similar to what you expected?

The first city I arrived in France was Annecy. This city satisfies all my fantasies about France. A small town situated at the foot of the mountains, very pretty and quiet. The clear stream runs under the little bridge in the canals, passes between the old buildings, the rain falls on the stone pavement, the fresh air that clears the nose in the morning and relieves the whole body…

  • With your French language learning in China, were you able to manage to communicate in everyday life (shops, bars, activities…) as soon as you arrived or was it complicated and very different ?

It wasn’t complicated, but at the same time it wasn’t easy either. For daily communication, it was not a problem. But when I spoke with French people and they used typical expressions, made jokes or used specific words, I understood very little. 

  • How did your courses at Ifalpes go? Did you like the teaching system and why ? Do you have a particular memory you would like to share ?

It was great ! I made progress in French and at the same time I met a lot of interesting people ! I made friends also. It was really great ! The teaching system is very good. Classes don’t start too early, and it lasts half a day, a good rhythm for me. The teachers are awsom ! We played games together while learning French. It was very cheerful and fun. The administrative team is great too ! Very efficient and nice ! They are always there for the students ! I only have good memories about life in Annecy, I can’t choose one in particular, you should invite me for a drink one day in Annecy and I’ll tell you all about it ! 

  • What were your impressions of Annecy? Now that you know other cities in France such as Rouen and Paris, do you notice big cultural differences ?

As I said, a very nice city. Unfortunately, during the confinement, I didn’t discover too much of Rouen and Paris. But each city is very different for me.

This is the first part of this interview with René. More next week !

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