I spoke French in Mali.
My French is 18 years rusty... and was never that good to begin with. On paper, I studied it for 7 years or so. In reality, I never really 'got it'.
So in Mali, a few things came back, but it was painfully frustrating much of time. I would go running to my friend Lisa's dictionary to find that crucial word. The word that would open the whole realm of meaning in a conversation. It turns out, a conversation really can pivot on a single word.
Here were some of the words that I needed to learn:
I will miss you
Tu me manquerai
I miss you.
Tu me manques.