Angers, France : Adapting to French University Life

The time has flown by and here we are at the end of November. Most of this month has been filled with tests and presentations in my various courses. I haven’t talk much about my course schedule here and as it differs greatly from the way class schedules typically work at Ole Miss, describing the system here is overdue. At CIDEF, I am taking 18 hours: six hours of langue (the overarching French language course), three hours of phonetics, three hours of oral expression (in other words, speaking/conversational French), three hours of French sociocultural studies, and three hours of 19th century French literature. Each 3-hour class takes place twice a week, two hours on one day and one hour on the other. My French language class is broken down into a two-hour class three times a week. On a weekly basis, my class schedule is the following:

  • Monday: 19th century lit – 10:15-12:15
  • Tuesday: Langue – 9:00-11:00; Sociocultural studies – 1:30-3:30
  • Wednesday: Oral expression – 1:30-3:30; Phonetics – 3:45-5:45
  • Thursday: Oral expression – 9:00-10:00; Langue – 10:15-12:5; 19th century lit – 1:30-2:30, Phonetics – 2:45-3:45
  • Friday: Sociocultural studies – 9:00-10:00; Langue – 10:15-12:15

I found this to be more challenging to memorize than the standard M/W/F or T/Th class schedule at Ole Miss, especially as the classes take place in different rooms depending on which day it is. By this point in the semester, I’m pretty sure I’ve memorized it, well for the most part as I did initially walk into the wrong classroom for my literature class this afternoon before one of my friends corrected me.

Another thing that still occasionally throws me off school-wise here in France is the grading scale. In France, grades are giving on a scale from 0-20 rather than 0-100 like in the United States. Every time I get a test back from one of my professors and see I received a 17 or something like that, I initially have a moment of panic before remembering that the grading scale is different here. Also, I have had to train myself to think of an AB as inferior to a B, as AB on an assignment here stands for assez bien (good enough) versus B which stands for bien (good).

In non-university related news, I visited two chateaus located a few hours from Angers this past Saturday on an excursion through the university. The first of the two is called Chenonceau, which is the most visited chateau in France after Versailles. The structure that exists today was built from 1513-1521. It is remarkable building that extends across a river and thus served not only as a residence, but also as a bridge. The other chateau we visited is called Chambord. It was built to serve as a hunting lodge for François I who was the king of France from 1515-1547. The architecture of both chateaus is incredible as are the manicured gardens of each, though neither are especially flourishing at this point in the year. In addition, both of the chateaus were decorated for Christmas with several Christmas trees which helped to lift my spirits as the visit was two days after spending Thanksgiving in class all day.

It’s a strange feeling that this semester is drawing to a close and I have several mixed feelings about it. I don’t dwell on them long though as there’s still a few things to be done before finals. Next weekend, I’m going to visit Normandy, a trip I’ve been looking forward to since I decided to come to France. À bientot !

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