Arriving in France 10 years ago, with pretty basic French and wet behind my ears, I literally hit the ground running and started working with my sister the very day I arrived in Perpignan's fair city.
I was the lucky sister, as Suzanne had already done all the ground work, bought a property for herself and established a social scene and had started up our business so I just slotted in with her.
Many nights were spent out with her friends with rapid fire french flying while I just sat there, the mute smiling tall one, trying to look interested, nodding here and there, laughing when everyone else laughed, dodging questions with very vague answers ... If you've been there, you'll know how awkward this feels.
The amount of mistakes I made at this time could fill a book, here are a few classics :
While waiting in the queue in Galerie Lafayette ( equivalent of Brown Thomas) I asked a blue rinser "vous etes dans le cul?" Are you in the arse? Rather than "vous faites la queue" Are you in the queue?
How many times did I say "Je suis chaude" I'm hot for it! ,rather than "J'ai chaude" I'm hot ( temperature) during my first long hot summer?
"Je suis plein" does not mean I am full, it means I am pregnant, but usually used for animals.. another gaffe I made regularly until corrected..
There was the time my visiting friend from Ireland asked for an "assiette de chomage" after a meal ( a plate of unemployment)
And the day, on the phone to a client after a long day of exhausting French and English verbal gymnastics, I wished him 'a nice shite' instead of nice flight!!