Just a boy on his own, running away from his home?
Who is Mike Sapp? An international man of mystery? A timeless sage who defies history? A lover of life, with a hunger for the unknown? Or just a boy on his own, running away from his home?
The truth would be, all of the above, but so much more!
I, like better men than myself, have been introduced to the world of the French because of a girl. In high school I started off taking German as a foreign language, but switched to French when I started to date a girl who spoke French. And as much as I’d like to say I learned part of the language during that period in my life, it turned out that her mother taught French at another school, and I was able to copy her homework and had what some might call an unfair advantage on exams.
Many years later, and a few failed attempts at some French university classes, I realized that a third semester of French was the only thing holding me back from graduating, so I thought it would be a good idea to spend a summer in France to help improve my language skills. I thought I was throwing myself into one of those sink or swim situations, but as it turned out I probably found the only lifeboat in the ocean!
The same girl I had switched from German to French for was living in the French town of Strasbourg, so I ended up staying with her for the summer! It was one of the best experiences of my life, but a miserable failure as far as intent was involved. In fact, instead of improving my French I think the experience made my English worse! So many people there spoke a broken kind of English, it was actually easier to communicate in a fragmented English than my pathetic excuse for French.
So I spent summer learning about French cuisine, and culture, but the one thing holding me in school, the language still evaded me, so naturally when it came time for school work I cheated as much and as often as possible. I used Google translator, which admittedly was horrible, but was still a hundred times better than my own internal translator, and I kept in touch with my friend in France and had her proof read and help translate my bigger projects.
When it came time for our final, I had a pretty good feeling I was screwed. I was sitting on a 59% and needed to get at least a 75% on the final, a score well out of my capability, to pass the class with a C. Armed with the latest iPhone, and its Skyping abilities, we figured out the time difference, and planned to take my test together! I finished the test, and before I got the results, and before knowing if I had graduated or not, I packed my stuff and moved to Australia! I must have done amazingly well on the final because I ended up with a C+ in the class!
But that’s just how my relationship with the French language got started. Of course being American I owe the French a debt of gratitude for helping us win our independence all those years ago, but gratitude aside, I’ve been intrigued with all things French for longer than I can remember! But consciously, it probably started with the French kiss.