I grew up in Montreal, in a French-speaking family, and went to kindergarten, primary and secondary school in French. My whole life was solely in French until the age of 17, when I studied abroad for one year in the USA.
I quickly learned English at my American high school, as it was a complete immersion. I was also very curious about learning English, and spent hours reading magazines like Seventeen and YM with a dictionary, trying to translate everything. I also spent countless hours watching English TV series such as Friends and Full House, and I feel like I learned most of my basic English expressions from Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club. I was lucky to pursue my studies at McGill University in Montreal upon my return, where I studied English literature while living a life in French outside of school.
Since I've been living in Japan, I haven't used French so much. Even though I have a few French friends, still watch French movies and read French books, it's not nearly enough. I don't get to casually converse on a daily basis, and every time I use French I feel rusty for the first few minutes. I feel really sad lately about this, not only do I miss speaking French, but my brain feels confused, especially with learning Japanese. I should focus all my energy on learning Japanese, but at the same time I feel guilty I barely use French. I know I'll never forget it, as it's my mother tongue, but I don't want to become illiterate either.
Have you experienced something similar while living in a different culture? Any tips?
In other news, today I tried this cafe called Le Coutume, which is apparently famous in the chic Left Bank of Paris. It just opened a few days ago in Minami-Aoyama, and I know there will be long queues a few weeks from now once some food TV show covers it, so I went in to try the coffee. It's good, very creamy, and there is a nice space to sit. They open early at 7:30am, so I might go there occasionally for a treat.