I have been thoroughly enjoying everything about my French class – my beautiful Parisian professor, my lovely classmates, taking copious amounts of notes in a new, pretty notebook, even the homework. Actually, especially the homework. I know, I know, homework can be tedious, laborious, and even unnecessary in a lot of cases, but the completion of my homework seems so imperative now that I’m learning a new language. I was out sick a few weeks ago and I had to miss my beloved French lessons, so I wasn’t in class to receive my packet of homework for the following session. I felt totally lost when I returned to the classroom – it was almost as if I had stumbled into the room where the Mandarin Chinese lessons were being taught, that’s how foreign French sounded to my ear that evening. Conversely, I spent plenty of time working through a packet of homework this past week and I felt totally prepared (and super smart!) as we went through the answers in class last night. It made the hugest difference. I guess I hadn’t realized the importance of thoroughly, intently completing my assignments until I didn’t have the opportunity to do so and really experienced the feeling of being far behind.

This mindset about homework translates to real world experiences, too, I think. In my early years in the non-profit world (or even while on job interviews after college), a time or two I definitely made the mistake of not doing enough (okay, or any) research on the person/company I was meeting with prior to our time together. I didn’t put enough effort into my homework, making me completely ill-prepared and poorly equipped to have a productive conversation. I don’t think this was because I intentionally chose not to prepare or because I was lazy – sometimes I think I just didn’t know the proper etiquette, forgetting that while people wanted to get to know me and my work, I also needed to get to know them and theirs. This goes for writing, too, in the fact that extensive research needs to be done before submitting a pitch to a publication. It’s this kind of extra work and thoughtfulness that can make your pitch or presentation stand out. Completing my French homework reminded me of the distance that you can travel if only you make the effort to do some legwork in advance.

So, aside from grammatical structure and key vocabulary words, my French class is teaching me a lot of things, things about life and preparedness and the value of homework. I’m thankful for the opportunity to stretch and grow and learn in a whole myriad of ways.

Image via Kimberly Chau for Sugar & Cloth