How French 1 Reconnected Me With My Mother Tongue

How French 1 Reconnected Me With My Mother Tongue

Learning French makes me appreciate Vietnamese even more


I took French I this semester, and it has changed my entire perspective. Let's start with some context: despite my major being in the STEM field, it's a Bachelor of Arts, so I must take a 2 language courses. USF offered more than enough choices for my taste, but 3 choices stuck out most: German, Japanese, and French. I was a little reserved at first because my last language course, which was Chinese, ended in a disaster; that, and the fact that I'm on the fence about choosing between my 3 favorite languages.

On the fence about taking one of 3 languages? Close your eyes and take a leap of faith!WikiMedia

One night, in a dream (not even kidding), I was told that I should take French to complete my family's trilingual legacy, one that was unfortunately ceased after the Vietnam War. The next morning of December, I went straight to Schedule Planner and chose French I. It was anxious not knowing what to expect, especially when classes don't start until January. When it did start, however, I felt as if a bond has formed between me and my mother tongue - Vietnamese.

The first classes didn't offer much. The classic "Bonjour, ca va?" was not the determining factor that made me love this class. Once the vocabulary started rolling in, foreign words naturally made sense to me, because I have seen them in Vietnamese before. Take savon for example, it means soap. In Vietnamese, especially in my region, it's called xà bông. Similar? Here's another example: plafond - ceiling. Guess how it's pronounced in Vietnamese: la-phông! (the ph- is pronounced as f-).

"Why is there this difference," you may ask. This came about due to colonization, specifically, the Indochina colonization of France during the 19th century. Prior to that, our language was a hybrid form between Vietnamese pronunciations and Chinese annotations (this is an overly simplified explanation, for more details, please read National Language Script). In order to eliminate Confucianism and cut the Vietnamese's ties from their heritage, the French decided to altogether remove Chinese from our daily lives, opting for the Latin alphabet. They took parts of the aforementioned pronunciations and transcribed them with the Latin alphabet. In addition, they also added French words into those that we don't presently have within our own language.

The Tonkin Campaign - an invasion has begunWikiMedia

This led to a plethora of French words being present in Vietnamese, many of which are used in present day. Some of my favorites are tournevis - tuốc-nơ-vít - screwdriver, volant - vô-lăng - steering wheel. This is accompanied by an alphabet whose pronunciations are exactly similar to French! This trend is inconsistent, however, and this inconsistency varies between regions. The difference is the most apparent when comparing Northern and Southern Vietnamese speech. The North (not all of them) tends to use more French in their speech while the South tends to use more Cantonese in their speech. This makes Vietnamese such an unusual language whose beauties are multi-faceted.

My French course is closing to an end soon, and I have learned a lot from it. It has also given me a new look into my language, giving rise to an appreciation I never had before. Culture is awesome, but it's even more so when one sees a familiar word in a foreign land.

Until next time, a bientôt!

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I Am A College Student, And I Think Free Tuition Is Unfair To Everyone Who's Already Paid For It

Stop expecting others to pay for you.


I attend Fordham University, a private university in the Bronx.

I commute to school because I can't afford to take out more loans than I already do.

Granted, I've received scholarships because of my grades, but they don't cover my whole tuition. I am nineteen years old and I have already amassed the debt of a 40-year-old. I work part-time and the money I make covers the bills I have to pay. I come from a middle-class family, but my dad can't afford to pay off my college loans.

I'm not complaining because I want my dad to pay my loans off for me; rather I am complaining because while my dad can't pay my loans off (which, believe me, he wants too), he's about to start paying off someone else's.

During the election, Bernie frequently advocated for free college.

Now, if he knew enough about economics he would know it simply isn't feasible. Luckily for him, he is seeing his plan enacted by Cuomo in NY. Cuomo has just announced that in NY, state public college will be free.

Before we go any further, it's important to understand what 'free' means.

Nothing is free; every single government program is paid for by the taxpayers. If you don't make enough to have to pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. If you live off welfare and don't pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. When someone offers someone something free, it's easy to take it, like it, and advocate for it, simply because you are not the one paying for it.

Cuomo's free college plan will cost $163,000,000 in the first year (Did that take your breath away too?). Now, in order to pay for this, NY state will increase their spending on higher education to cover these costs. Putting two and two together, if the state decides to raise their budget, they need money. If they need money they look to the taxpayers. The taxpayers are now forced to foot the bill for this program.

I think education is extremely important and useful.

However, my feelings on the importance of education does not mean that I think it should be free. Is college expensive? Yes -- but more so for private universities. Public universities like SUNY Cortland cost around $6,470 per year for in-state residents. That is still significantly less than one of my loans for one semester.

I've been told that maybe I shouldn't have picked a private university, but like I said, I believe education is important. I want to take advantage of the education this country offers, and so I am going to choose the best university I could, which is how I ended up at Fordham. I am not knocking public universities, they are fine institutions, they are just not for me.

My problems with this new legislation lie in the following: Nowhere are there any provisions that force the student receiving aid to have a part-time job.

I work part-time, my sister works part-time, and plenty of my friends work part-time. Working and going to school is stressful, but I do it because I need money. I need money to pay my loans off and buy my textbooks, among other things. The reason I need money is because my parents can't afford to pay off my loans and textbooks as well as both of my sisters'. There is absolutely no reason why every student who will be receiving aid is not forced to have a part-time job, whether it be working in the school library or waitressing.

We are setting up these young adults up for failure, allowing them to think someone else will always be there to foot their bills. It's ridiculous. What bothers me the most, though, is that my dad has to pay for this. Not only my dad, but plenty of senior citizens who don't even have kids, among everyone else.

The cost of living is only going up, yet paychecks rarely do the same. Further taxation is not a solution. The point of free college is to help young adults join the workforce and better our economy; however, people my parents' age are also needed to help better our economy. How are they supposed to do so when they can't spend their money because they are too busy paying taxes?

Free college is not free, the same way free healthcare isn't free.

There is only so much more the taxpayers can take. So to all the students about to get free college: get a part-time job, take personal responsibility, and take out a loan — just like the rest of us do. The world isn't going to coddle you much longer, so start acting like an adult.

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Writing Saved My Sanity

Write it all down when you can't talk to anyone.


I love writing.

I have since elementary school, and I've dreamed of becoming a published author. I started off writing stupid plays in elementary school, then it grew it almost writing a full-blown novel in middle school. I have no idea where that thing went to. It was all notebook paper and bad writing. In high school, my writing was kinda pushed to the side so I could focus on school. When I entered college, I started writing small poems about my now ex-boyfriend.

I was scared to express myself to him sometimes, the intensity of my feelings for him scared me. So instead of telling him, I wrote them down. When I tried to share them with him, he hated it. He thought writing down feelings was weird and creepy. So I didn't share anything else with him. When we finally broke up for good, everything just poured out of me. What I couldn't express verbally, I wrote or typed out.

I always have ideas flowing through my head. They never cease and I wouldn't want them to. Writing gives me an escape, from stress, work, school, or fights. It gives me a place to vent and to be open with everything. This is a reason I love writing for Odyssey, not only has this place brought me amazing friends but revived my love for writing. I'm never without my notebook anymore, I'd get distracted in class by an idea and have to write I think then and there.

I love sharing my more personal writing with close friends, especially my poems as of late. I found that I have a voice for young women who find themselves in a toxic relationship much like mine was. I want to speak out and show them that you can grow from the bullshit. It may take some time, but you will be better.

Writing saved my sanity. It allows me to express myself without having to use my actual voice. Anyone who knows me, knows I hate public speaking. I tend to psych myself out leading up to it. My current projects include writing for Odyssey every week, I'm in the process of trying to continue my short stories, and I'm excited to announce that I'm currently working on my very first poetry book!

Writing has given me so much, and I'm so looking forward to making a career out of something I love so much.

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