Texte de Sarah Turnbull


The narrator is called Sarah.
«  On a winter's day in January under a watery sun, my plane touches down at Charles de Gaulle airport. Once again I'm struck by the ambivalent appearance of the place. I wonder if this rundown spaceship is a sort of metaphor for France; if this country is in some respects ultramodern and sophisticated yet in other ways behind the times. But a couple of things are different from my arrival here last summer. The weather, for starters. And this time Frédéric's punctual! Waiting for me with a spare, thick woolly jumper because it's an especially cold day and he's worried I'll freeze outside. We met up for only one weekend in the last four months but we spoke a lot over the phone and gradually going to Paris had come to seem like the only sensible solution. There'd been no talk of whether I'll give it two months, six months, or a year. Like many life-changing decisions, the move to Paris was decided with little thought of the consequences. I am totally ignorant of what lies in store. Frédéric is not the sole reason for staying on in Europe, though. The truth is, I'm not ready to go home. And feeling ready is hugely important when your country is so far away from the rest of the world. No Australian or New Zealander wants to end their working holiday in London only to be haunted later by the thought of unlived adventures. Because once you go all the way back, you're there to stay, goes the logic. Oh sure, you'll travel and go abroad again but future trips will not stretch towards infinity like this one, they won't contain so many possibilities. Heading home is the fullstop marking the end of adventure; the beginning of a responsible life. And despite twelve months of travelling, I am not ready to be responsible. The television network I worked for in Sydney had given me one year leave without pay from my job. Sitting at the dining table of what is now my new home, I write to say I'm not coming back. This is not an especially difficult decision. I'd spent five good years at the Special Broadcasting Service, the national television network set up to serve Australia's ethnic communities. But now, in my late twenties, I'm wary(1) of being stuck in a professional rut(2). The time seems right to take a risk. In my mind, Europe is simmering with exciting opportunities for a journalist. It's just a matter of finding them. Still, the prospect of living in France is daunting(3). I have no job, no friends here and I barely speak the language. Frédéric and I are living together after little more than a month in each other's company – by any reasonable standards a ridiculously short time for such a serious move. This recklessness is both scary and sort of exciting. It's also totally out of character –  in Australia I'd have thought this was mad, shacking up(4) before the relationship has even got off the ground. What a recipe for disaster! But risks seem less alarming in a new and foreign environment where you can't measure your behaviour by familiar yardsticks such as family or friends or society in general. Besides, it's not like we have another option. Even if I had enough money (which I don't), renting my own apartment would be almost impossible. Having entered the country as a tourist, strictly speaking I'm not allowed to remain in France longer than three months. But none of this can dampen my overriding feeling that somehow all of this is right. Frédéric; being in France; taking a professional risk. »
Sarah Turnbull, Almost French, 2002

Compréhension de l'écrit
1. Give information about Sarah (approximate age, former occupation, country of origin). (20 words maximum)
a) Copy the following sentences and fill in the blanks using the elements given below.
London – Paris – Sydney
First Sarah worked in… . Then she spent some time in… . Now she is in… .
b) Fill in the blanks with the corresponding periods of time taken from the text. Copy the completed sentences.
  • Sarah worked in her country of origin for… .
  • Sarah temporarily had a break from work for… .
  • Sarah has been travelling across Europe for… .
"The truth is, I'm not ready to go home."
a) What does "home" refer to?
So what has Sarah decided to do?
Choose the correct statement from the list below.
Sarah has decided to:
  • rent a flat in Paris.
  • work for a television channel in London.
  • stay in Paris.
  • visit a friend in London.
4. The scene takes place in two different locations in the same city. Which ones? (Give them in the chronological order)
Location 1: …
Location 2: …
Focus on the passage from "On a winter's day […]" to "[…] what lies in store" .
a) Apart from Sarah, name the character also present in the scene.
b) What is this character present for?
c) Give the two reasons why Sarah finds this character caring. (15-20 words)
Focus on the passage from "Frédéric is not […]" to "[…] a professional risk" .
Sarah uses words such as "adventures" and "risks" . Explain how they apply to:
a) her love life. (10-15 words)
b) the country she has chosen to live in. (10-15 words)
c) her professional life. (10-15 words)
a) "Because once you go all the way back, you're there to stay, goes the logic". What does this sentence mean?
b) Why does Sarah feel audacious? (justify by quoting the text) (40-50 words)
c) "I am totally ignorant of what lies in store", explain the meaning of this sentence. (30-40 words)
Seuls les candidats de la série L réaliseront l'exercice 8.
8. Fill in the blanks with words taken from the text. One blank is one word. Copy the paragraph.
(a) … her hesitations, Sarah has made her (b) … to (c) … . Heading back to her country of origin would be (d) … ; (e) … , she is ready to take a (f) … . The prospect of (g) … does not prevent her from feeling she is (h) … .
Expression écrite
If you had the opportunity, would you go and spend a year in a foreign country? Discuss the pros and cons. (200 words)
(1)Wary: afraid.
(2)Rut: routine.
(3)Daunting: intimidating.
(4)Shacking up: living with somebody.


Compréhension de l'écrit
1. Sarah is in her late twenties, she used to work as a journalist at the Special Broadcasting Service, a television network in Sydney, she is Australian.
a) First Sarah worked in Sydney, then she spent some time in London. Now she is in France.
b) Sarah worked in her country of origin for five years. Sarah temporarily had a break from work for one year. Sarah has been travelling across Europe for one year.
a) "home" refers to Australia – Sydney.
b) Sarah has decided to stay in Paris.
4. Location 1: Charles de Gaulle airport. Location 2: Frédéric's place.
a) The other character present in the scene is Frédéric.
b) He has come to fetch Sarah from the airport.
c) Sarah finds Frédéric caring because he is on time, and as the weather is cold he has brought her a thick pull-over for her not to be cold/ not to catch a cold.
a) "adventures" and "risks" can be applied to her love life because she plans to live with Frédéric although she doesn't know him very well.
b) These two words can also be applied to the country she has chosen to live in, since she only has a tourist visa which is quite limited in time, she doesn't really speak French, only a few words it seems, and she knows nobody except Frédéric.
c) The two words also show that in France she has no job (which is a problem for her career) so she will have to find one.
a) The sentence means that if you are an Australian or a New Zealander travelling in Europe, when you decide to come back home, it's for good, you know you'll never do it again. It's a unique experience. It's logical according to Sarah.
b) Being abroad and far away from home Sarah lives an exciting experience, she feels more audacious than in her own country, she feels she can take risks without being afraid or disappointed by the results because no one can judge her, I quote "[…] in Australia I'd have thought this was mad […]" and "But risks seem less alarming in a new and foreign environment where you can't measure your behavior by familiar yardsticks […]"
c) It means that Sarah doesn't want to know about the future, she lives her life from day to day. She is not interested in taking responsibilities, on the contrary she is excited by an adventurous life.
8. (a) Despite her hesitations, Sarah has made her (b) decision to (c) stay. Heading back to her country of origin would be (d) responsible/ sensible; (e) yet, she is ready to take a (f) risk . The prospect of (g) disaster/ risks does not prevent her from feeling she is (h) right.
Expression écrite
At first, I would like to say that leaving one's home-country is quite a difficult decision to take, whatever the reason. There would probably be many causes if I had to do so. Perhaps one of them would be to follow the one I love. Another one would be to escape economic woes or religious persecution in my native country or even to apply for political asylum as it is often the case for many immigrants. The boring routine of everyday life could be another reason which could account for my desire to emigrate to another country. For all these different reasons, I think I would feel a strong wish to break away from my roots and my country and I would feel like starting anew and trying to adapt to another country. I would certainly go and settle in a land where people share about the same culture and values as mine, so it would be easier to fit in there. I do not have a precise country in mind but it would certainly be a western country. Of course I would miss a few things and it would be painful and hard to give up my way of living and to abandon my familiar surrounding. France is the place where I have my roots. Furthermore, I would certainly miss my relatives and my friends and, once in a new country, I would have to adapt to new customs. At first, I would certainly have difficulties starting from scratch. I would be torn between two cultures and two different ways of thinking. Anyway, before making such a decision it is worth weighing up all the pros and cons. But I think that in spite of all the difficulties I might encounter, I would be ready to make the decision if I had to.