"Thanks to Alliance Française, I can consider a PhD at University"


When the job of her dreams was offered to her, Marija Fridinovaite did not hesitate to pack her bags and head for Paris. She didn't speak French? No problem, the young film producer took lessons. And she liked it so much that she is now pursuing a specialised Master's degree at the University of Paris 8. 

The hint of an accent that emerges during the conversation does not really suggest Marija Fridinovaite's Lithuanian origins. However, it is in Palanga, on the Baltic coast, that this film lover grew up. One can see a tenuous link with the Nouvelle Vague, but that is about the only relationship Marija had with the French language up to then.  

"I became a producer and started working in Vilnius for a European association of film companies. At the age of 24, I was asked to become the manager and to move to Paris. But I didn't speak French at all, so I had to learn, and quickly! "

Stepping out of the comfort zone

Marija Fridinovaite did take a few basic lessons in Lithuania, as part of an express programme, and then approached the Paris City Hall once she had arrived to continue her learning. "It was very difficult at the beginning, especially as I had to manage all the administration for the association, but I must say that what helped me was living in France and being surrounded by people who spoke French. I had no choice, I had to take the plunge and get out of my comfort zone. "

But Marija also had another asset up her sleeve: she already spoke Lithuanian, English and a little Russian. A linguistic ability that prooves very useful when learning a new language. The years went by, and so did the young producer's projects.  

"After four years already spent in France, I took on a new challenge: enrolling in a Master's degree in Theory, Aesthetics and Memory of Cinema at the University of Paris 8, for which I had to demonstrate a DALF C1 level. I therefore approached the Alliance Française de Paris to take the preparation course. Because until then, my big problem was a lack of confidence, especially when I had to express myself in public. And without this course, I don't know if I would have been able to take the exam. The DALF is very specific, it's not just about mastering the language, you also have to know French culture and history. You have to be able to express reasoning, read texts and answer questions, produce summaries, write an essay... It's very comprehensive. "

Overcoming a lack of confidence

Marija Fridinovaite then returned to the joys of learning, thanks to the guidance of the Alliance Française de Paris. She quickly noticed progress in her own understanding of French, and successfully graduated.

"Well, it turned out that the DALF was not compulsory for my enrolment in the Master's programme. But it was very useful for the rest of my course. Thanks to this preparation, I have a better understanding of sentence construction, which seemed so long compared to English, and I now dare to speak in public. I don't think we could have had this conversation without it! And most importantly, the programme at the university is intense enough to save me from further difficulties in understanding. I think that without the Alliance Française, I might not have done this year of the Masters. "

This is just the beginning of the story 

An excess of modesty, no doubt. Because what Marija does not say is that in parallel, she is actively pursuing her career as a fiction producer, dividing her time between France and Lithuania. And that the fact of having returned to university has also put new dreams in her head: "I feel comfortable in the academic world, and I like to deepen my personal knowledge so much that I am thinking of continuing with a PhD. After all, why not!

Isn’t it exactly the stuff good scenarios are made of?