I have officially been in France for a month! Already I have done so much and learned so much about living and being French.
Classes began after our first week of classes. And when I say they began, the work started flowing in full force. Clearly the French are not familiar with the American concept of “syllabus week”, which more or less provides students the chance to slowly adjust to their schedules while really just hanging out and catching up with friends. The beginning of class is more or less the same- teachers pass out and discuss the syllabus as well as some reading for the next class. But that’s where some American professors (not at Linfield) would say, “all right, see ya later." French professors instead prefer to dive right into a difficult subject like “what is a civilization versus a society?” (That was the subject of discussion my first class Monday morning…nobody knew what was going on). More or less all of my classes followed the same pattern the first few days--and by the end I had about 10 packets of French articles to read, a few essays, and absolutely no idea what I had gotten myself into.
I have five classes at the American Center: French Cultural Patterns (required course to analyze why the French are the way they are), Linguistic Strategies (also required, to learn practical, everyday French), French Society, European Union, and French Grammar. I have more or less gotten used to the workload, but reading in French takes me about three times longer than in English, so I always feel like I’m just a little bit behind. It doesn’t help that the French are much harder graders than in the US (where everyone is a winner, right?!). I definitely have to work a little harder here than at Linfield, but I know that if I do, not only will my grades reflect that, but also my language skills, and my overall person and character.
Aside from school I have found time to visit the Mediterranean Sea at a little village called Cassis with some friends, and we had an excursion last weekend to the region known as the Luberon just north of Aix. Both were absolutely stunning and made me fall in love with France just a little bit more.
I’m loving living in Aix. It is definitely very hard at times balancing school with spending time with my wonderful host mom; finding time to workout and see friends; go out at night to meet the real French youth and still get enough sleep to function. At the end of the day, though, it’s the little moments like being able to explain to your host mom some cultural differences between the French and Americans that outweigh any difficulties and frustrations from the day. As I tell myself when I get frustrated: the reward is always greater when the work is harder.
A tout à l’heure!