The title of this has nothing to do with the rest of the actual post, but someone here mentioned “Legally Blonde” when I told them I was in a sorority so I felt the need to include a quote.
So last week was my first week of classes and to say I was nervous would be an understatement. First of all, there is no more appropriate phrase to describe the initial process of scheduling classes than “cluster fuck” (sorry Dad – I know you will care more about my cursing than Mom). Basically, they put all of the international students in a room with lists of classes along the walls and say good luck. Because why would the university want to use a more efficient online system when everyone knows the Internet is just another fad, like bell bottoms or shaving your initials onto your head?
After finally getting my classes scheduled, including cleverly making sure that I had nothing to do on Fridays because Thursday nights I’m going to be up late, like, reading and stuff, it was time to actually go to them! Fun fact: in France they can change the times of the classes without telling you! Cue my French Linguistics class where the entire class waited outside for about 20 minutes before someone who wasn’t actually lazy made the trip to the office, only to learn that it had been rescheduled (from 1 pm to 5 pm). You may be asking yourself, but what if the change conflicts with another class? I’m not 100% sure, but I’m pretty sure the answer is you are SOL.
The classes I actually DID make it to went pretty well, as most people can spot the international students from a mile away and tend to be pretty accommodating (fun fact #2: I just spent 5 minutes trying to figure out how to spell accommodating). Unlike in the United States where teachers tend to be more passive aggressive if they don’t like you, in France the professors seem to show their disdain more openly in the form of not giving you any way to contact them whatsoever. And a syllabus? What’s that? They make the schedule as they go and you’re supposed to follow it…crazy, right? RIP American syllabus week.
Two moments have stood out from my classes so far. The first was in English grammar, which I know sounds like bullshit that I’m taking it (okay, it kind of is bullshit), but in my defense I’m using it as more of a translation class. Anyways, since my class is mostly French people, I asked the professor during a break if I could make an announcement saying if anyone wanted help with their English, I’d be more than happy to help, as I needed help with my French too. The professor said he would do it for me. He then proceeded to announce to the entire class that my name was Katherine and that I needed a friend, followed by “who wants to be her friend?”. Immediately flashing back to my senior prom days and preparing myself for utter rejection, I was almost certain that no one would raise their hand. But luckily everyone did! And now I hope I will have a new French friend (or at least someone who will hang out with me because they feel sorry for me!)
Second moment happened today in my French writing class. My teacher told us that we had to write a poem. Okay, no biggie, I thought. Write a rough draft, get on my Google translate game, I’ll be fine. Turns out she meant IN class, and then we had to read our poems aloud to everybody! Umm……say what? Long story short, I plaintively asked my teacher if she would look over my poem very quickly before reading it out loud to make sure I didn’t sound like the biggest idiot of all time. The fact that her face seemed to be holding back laughter while she looked it over was not comforting, but I read it aloud nonetheless and nobody in my class looked like they wanted to punch me in the face or beat me with a baguette or whatever French people do when they get angry (yet to find out….thankfully).
So begins my very first semester of French classes. I feel like the way I am conquering this French university is just like Elle Woods at Harvard, minus Luke Wilson and plus a lot more falling and general clumsiness.