Choosing courses in France really did end up being harder than it looked.
23.09.2009 16 °C
I had been warned by many kind souls (Rachel, I thank you tremendously) that choosing courses in France was going to be quite the test. Sure enough, we have someone here that works with ISEP and ISEP students so in fact, you would think that everything would be quite the breeze. And, for the first week of classes, it was. And then the tumultous second week came and that was that.
Many interesting things occurred on the first few days of this week, one of which was receiving (along with other exchange students) a letter handwritten and signed by the "Directrice" of my Residence Hall. Of course, roughly 80% of the nonsense written was completely inaccurate, but nonetheless, the news was far from superior and if you are interested in the funfilled story, be sure to drop me a message and I will divulge.
However, Monday was also immensely spectacular because I went to a meeting for Tandem, a course in which Anglophone exchange students are paired up with Francophone students majoring (or the French way of saying, "specializing") in English. What followed was me going after the so called "gateaux" (cake) that was promised in an email, when really all they had was a bit of orange juice, biscuits (and I mean cookies) and these weird honey waffle cookie things which are just all too glorious to not eat. Paperwork followed along with a random selection to pair us up with our Francophone partner. Needless to say, I was terribly excited and nervous all at once. Mainly because this course is, in a sense, about chemistry. If you and your partner hit it off, that's great; you're going to have a formidable time. If not, well... There goes a waste of a class.
Thankfully, I get paired up with this incredibly sweet and adorable girl named Perrine. First of all, that name is rather hard for me to pronounce, if only because it has that double r sound that just gets me everytime. For those of you who know nothing about French, the r sound is quite difficult to make. It's pretty gutteral/back of the throat and I have to admit, my throat's been irritated lately from trying to imitate it. Anyways, this girl is so incredibly full of life that all I can do is giggle when I'm with her. I know that sounds stupid. Shut up, don't judge.
In all honesty though, I am very fortunate to have such a cool Tandem partner, someone who is genuinely interested, not only in practicing her English, but to help me with my French, introduce me to the young adult's way of French life and to share apart of her life with me. And vice versa for her. I've already met up with her 3 times since then, have met many of her friends (and her, mine), and plan to be introduced to her family, who of course, does not speak a lick of English. Some highlights of our mixing of cultures include:
Saying poutous poutous instead of bisous bisous (only you French speakers would get this but really it means "kisses" and is used in letters, message, texts, in person, as an action, etc.).
Fawning over Jonathan Rhys Meyers together.
Realizing Perrine is a fan of Bollywood films and Hindi music.
Explaining the real meaning of the song "If You Seek Amy" by Britney Spears (trust me, that caused quite the excitement amongst her and her friends upon realizing that one). That was the best thing so far...
She already knows the words "baller" and "ballin."
Comforting her with the fact that I too hate MacBeth.
And explaining the phrase "Shut down," as in, "Oh dude, she just got shut down..."
I've also been promised: to be taken to the most famous club in this region, which is actually situated in Belgium; a typical French boyfriend; and a game of Monopoly, French style. How much of this will actually happen, I'm not sure, but I'll be sure to keep you updated.
I have recently bought a French cellphone. Vraiment utile.
So, about those classes. Tuesday involved me running around endlessly, trying to figure what the fuck course I'm supposed to be taking in history to qualify as my Learning Domain back home as well as realizing that I had missed 2 class meetings of 1/3 of my Lit course (also needed for my Learning Domain) as well as wondering how the I was going to fit everything in cohesively. Plus, I recently realized that I may be taking 36 ECTS, which is 6 too many. Of course, I can do that, but seriously, I'm here to discover France as well. 9 of those ECTS come from my courses on Friday. I take courses. On Friday. From 8:30. All the way to 1pm. Am I an idiot? I think so. But these classes are just so fascinating to me. The first one is language acquisition in babies and children. The second one is psycholinguistics and the third is child development. All of things are mildly important since I kind of want to go down this path when I get to grad school. So I feel as if it would be shameful for me to not at least check out the courses. Yet again, I'll let you know what I end up doing.
But today, I somehow miraculously figured things out. Not sure how, but thanks to Emily, an American girl I met on the first day and we've ended up hangin' out, I ended up going with her and another Australian girl to a course on the French Revolution. It was fantastic. It lasted 10 minutes. Ok though, in all seriousness, what makes it great is the material and also, the professor. I have yet to meet a professor who was this pleased to see 3 non-Erasmus exchange students (there is a difference, in case you didn't know) taking his course in French. So needless to say, I plan to take this course, especially since it pretty much resolves the problems I was having.
For those of you who don't know, choosing classes here is totally different. You don't meet individually with an advisor the year before and plan out your next year together. No. Instead, you wait until the week before (or in some cases, the week of) classes start and go to the department where you want to take classes. Most French kids just have one department to run to and just view the timetables of their courses. Actually, they don't really pick their courses, since they don't have our kind of flexibility. They're pretty much set in stone, with a few electives here and there. It's the exchange students/weirdos who decided to take classes in multiple departments (like me, I take them in the Lettres Moderne, Histoire, Angellier and DEFI departments) and have to go from department to department trying to make the schedule work. Like I mentioned earlier, I was warned of this so I ran to each department earlier than usual so I had more time to figure things out. Still mildly screwed myself over, but the hump is (pretty much) over, touch wood, and I will probably explain my rather weird schedule in another post.
I am taking a fencing course. Too bad the professor didn't show up to the first week's course. I also randomly decided to go to a Tango class, just to audit. Ended up meeting 3 rather cool French people, one who happens to be friends with Perrine! What are the odds (this uni is 18,000 people or so; not Hendrix sized at all)!
That, and much more. I'm still in the process of updating. Next post will probably contain my language experiences thus far. Stay tuned -post will be much more frequent. I think.