December was, so far, the most academically difficult month of my time abroad. I only had two weeks of school but they were very intense emotionally and academically. Academically because of final exams and emotionally because, for many of my friends at the AUCP, it was their last two weeks in France. Unfortunately, everyone had so much homework and final projects that very few last-minute French adventures were to be had; all of my classes had a final project of some kind, either an essay or a presentation—in some cases both. While I usually find finals exhausting in English in the United States they were almost overwhelming in French.
For the entire week leading up to finals I felt really intimidated by the prospect of taking five three-hour long essay tests written completely in French. Sure, my French has improved enormously but I don’t even want to take those tests in English. Most of my friends were feeling the same way so we formed study groups for each of our classes; making study groups turned out to be one of the best possible ways to study for these tests because it gave us a chance to discuss our ideas and refine them so that we were clear on what we wanted to write on the test so that, when the time came, we could focus on writing those ideas down in our best French instead of working out our ideas and then working out how we were going to write them down. After studying with my friends, I almost felt ready for finals when the time came. In the end, those essay tests were as exhausting as they sound but we all made it through just in time to go home for the holidays.