The only way I could overcome the disappointment was learning English on my own. I wasn’t even sure that one could learn a foreign language completely on one’s own. I went to a bookshop and bought a book that looked easy enough. The book wasn’t really easy, and it took me a long time to finish it. She was called Carla Bruni and had been a supermodel before she made her first album.But when I finished it, I felt my method was finally working. In her interview, she said she would deliberately record mistakes because being imperfect would make her more relatable. I definitely should listen to her songs.’ When I heard her voice on Quelqu’un m’a dit, the first song of her album, I immediately liked her.We all spoke French, and there was a strong sense of community amongst French speaking expats.
I was always reading books, sometimes during classes. A lot of people talked to me: restaurant owners, juice sellers, passengers on the train, guests at hotels, random people on the street – everyone was curious about me. But I was hesitant to learn a new language because I knew it would take a long time. When I decided to go to university, the first thing I thought about was the study abroad programme.Reading books was my way of connecting to people who had great life experience and knowledge. I would practice writing them when I was bored during classes. When I was 17, I went backpacking through South India for two months. Initially, I was thinking of Britain, but my French was becoming better, so I chose France.I liked the idea of going to a non-English-speaking country.Every time I went to the park, I saw the A-Bomb Dome, which was partially destroyed by the A-Bomb. People in Hiroshima didn’t have any resentment towards American people. One of the few phrases I learnt in the US was ‘never mind’.They merely told us that the war was bad and should never be repeated. My host brother always said it when he gave up explaining things to me in English.
He has been to over 30 countries, from Eastern Europe to South East Asia, where he enjoyed talking to local people and listening to their stories.