April 21, 2007

First aid in French.

Languages are funny things. I haven’t spoken French for quite some time (since the 11th grade, actually) so my command of spoken French is a bit rusty. Still solid, but I’m just in need of practice.

So as I arrived in Brussels yesterday, I was still asking questions and conversing with locals in English. Until something happened yesterday afternoon that made all my French skills come rushing back.

I was getting off the metro near the European Commission for a set of meetings when the man walking ahead of me on the sidewalk collapsed and started having a seizure. My first-aider instincts jumped in and I started doing the usual: clearing the area, verifying his vitals, and coordinating emergency response. It wasn’t until the emergency response teams had left and I was walking to the Commission that I realized that I had coordinated the first aid efforts completely in French. No hesitation, no stuttering: I spoke French like it was my native language.

Since then, I’ve been using French as my lingua franca here in Brussels. Funny how it takes one small impetus to bring something like a language back into your life.