Happy Bastille Day! Today marks France’s independence day, and whilst the French indulge in parties and fireworks, it’s a chance for everyone else to reflect upon the closest you could get to the country growing up: French GCSEs.
GCSEs were hard enough, what with nine or 10 subjects to master, raging hormones and annoying parents, let alone having to learn a whole new language as well.
The experience is no doubt burned into your brain to this day, so here are 19 things you’ll undoubtedly sympathise with if you were lucky (or unlucky) enough to take GCSE French.
1. Being able to say that you’re any age up to 16. Nothing further.
2. The phrase “Oh no! I’ve forgotten my exercise book” is probably the only one that will never leave your memory.
3. Any homework you attempted to do using Google translate inevitably didn’t end well.
4. Having a weird affinity to La Rochelle.
5. Learning a speech off by heart for your oral exam, but not knowing what on earth your teacher is talking about when she asks you questions about it.
6. Having to make up hobbies so you actually had something to say when the question came up in the oral.
7. That feeling of dread when you turn up to the oral exam and could only remember a Spanish phrase you once heard.
8. Don’t even get started on the listening… you probably understood one out of every 20 words?
9. Having an in-depth knowledge of all different types of stationary.
10. Going on the French exchange and having half your class go to Disneyland, whereas the other half went to Mass. You were inevitably in the latter half.
11. Genuinely thinking that all French teenagers did was constantly ask each other what they did on the weekend.
12. Also thinking their style was permanently stuck in the 80s (if those textbooks were anything to go by).
13. Only remembering anything if it was in song-form.
14. That doesn’t mean you actually knew what Frere Jacques meant – don’t be silly!
15. The Tricolore French textbook was your bible when exams rolled around.
16. Having a staunchly held belief that over-exaggerated pronunciation would have the power to cover up any lack of vocabulary.
17. Turns out, pretty much nothing you’ve learned will help you when you actually get to la belle France. Oh – except you’ll be able to ask where the nearest library is with no problem.
18. In fact, the only time that your GCSE French comes in handy is for Eurovision, and you count that as an ultimate triumph.
19. As painful as the actual GCSE was, looking back you kind of loved it.