Week of Firsts

My first full week of classes is over, yay! We started classes last week but last Monday was the first day back and there were meetings and all of the usual beginning of the semester stuff to go through, not to mention that since we were basically sampling classes all last week, most teachers just gave overviews and waited to start any actual material until this week.

my schedule for the semester

It’s not too horrible. The only bad day is Thursday because I have litterature at 8am and then nothing until after lunch. But at least that’s my only super early day. As for Wednesdays, I’ll soon find out if they’re nice or not. So far it’s been nice to be able to sleep in more or less but Wednesday is the day that Stephanie comes.  She comes and helps Madame clean and stuff. Deborah, the former student who visits sometimes, says that usually Stephanie’s job is to help make sure that older people get up and moving (I think in French the word might be animateur?). The last two weeks there hasn’t really been a problem because I’ve had errands to run, but I’m not sure what will happen when I don’t because she comes in and vacuums our rooms too. But anyway. I digress.

Class so far hasn’t been too bad. Obviously they’re not going to be the easiest because it’s a different language and I’m still actively comprehending and translating what the professors say in my head. But that’s getting easier which always a good sign. I can already tell that which classes I think I’m going to like better than others but you get that no matter where you go. For anyone new, and as a refresher for those who read the last post, here’s what I’m taking this semester: Langue, Litterature, Taduction anglais/français, Grammaire, Histoire de France, et Histoire de l’art. So far it looks like Histoire de l’art and Taduction anglais/français might be my favorites. Traduction will probably end up being one of my harder classes but it seems interesting and I think it will help a lot. There are a lot of phrases or words in english that either don’t really translate into french or I just don’t know the translation. Things like whenever, as long as, i feel that/i feel like, it seems, etc. So I think that class will really help with that as well as expanding my vocabulary. The first piece we were given to translate is the longest I think we’ll have to do (the professor said she does that to help weed out the unmotivated). It was an excerpt from Steve Jobs’ 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University. Histoire de l’art is interesting and going well. We’ve finished prehistory and next week starts the beginning of the written era I believe.

This whole thing is crazy for a few reasons. First, yesterday (Friday) some of our professors started giving us the dates of our exams throughout the semester. That was like dropping a glass of water on our heads. For many of us in niveau 320, that means our first test is next Wednesday in Litterature. My friends and I are trying to figure out what the hell the test is going to be on. Seriously, we haven’t even started reading anything in there yet. Friday we looked at part of “Le Lac” but aside from that all we have are a couple pages’ worth of random notes on Chateaubriand. The other reason why this whole thing is crazy is the books. Holy crap. IT. IS. SO. CHEAP. No joke. So, at any given college or university in the States you probably spend what, $500-600 on books a semester minimum? I’m taking a full workload’s worth here and I’ve bought 5 books and 2 workbooks for around 50 euros. Traduction and histoire de l’art don’t have any required books. It’s a huge difference. Granted, I realize that CIDEF is a program specifically for foreign students, but it’s still surprising–refreshing–but surprising, especially when you compare it what we spend on books at home.

Going along with the whole “week of firsts” theme, I had my first conversation with a french student. There’s a reason why I haven’t been too chuffed to have one before. It’s intimidating! Because they speak a little too fast sometimes and it’s embarrassing to ask them to repeat themselves and you still don’t understand when they’ve repeated themselves two or three times. Guess what happened to two friends and me at the reception after the Welcome Mass? Yep. This French guy came up and asked us in English where we were from (we’d been switching back and forth between english and french and I guess we were speaking english when he walked up). We answered him in french and talked for a minute or two but then it went downhill. He said something, like a couple sentences’ worth, and none of us understood. He repeated it like four times and we still didn’t understand. And the kicker? He spoke 7 languages. You heard me, SEVEN. Okay technically six, and then he said he understood Swahili but couldn’t speak it but still. And english was one of them. It was just super awkward the whole thing.

My second encounter with a frenchie was better. Friday night I went ice skating with some friends, one of which has a new french boyfriend (her neighbor, I think) who also came. I think he’s out of school but he was really nice. Didn’t speak a lick of english I don’t think but we could understand him for the most part. His girlfriend was in level 7 last month so she can speak pretty well. Ice skating, oh boy. I haven’t been ice skating since I was probably 12. It was fun at first but after a while it just got embarrassing. Literally I was the only one who had to stay close to the wall. Not just in our little group, but of everyone in the entire rink. I guess ice skating around here is like roller blading back home because everyone could balance and skate decently well. Of course the more advanced kids were trying jumps and tricks in the middle and stuff and people fell some but no one was like a total novice. Yay… I’m not sure I’d go again but it was an experience. And I was happy because the girls I went with, I hadn’t had a chance to talk to in a while since we’re all in different levels and so have different schedules. Antony was going to come but then decided against it so I still haven’t seen much of him.

Alright, I have homework to do and I’m sure y’all all have stuff to do too SO, I’ll just leave you guys with this nice little picture.

Guess who got their certificate for completing the month of September!

❤ Rachel


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