"When good Americans die, they go to Paris." - Oscar Wilde

Monday, February 7, 2011

France's Sadistic Enjoyment in Watching International Students Cry

French universities take sadistic pleasure in watching baffled study abroad students scurry around campus. Today was my first day of classes and it was incredibly stressful. The university posts the results of your entrance exam on a wall where everyone can see them. Talk about public humiliation. After this, they herd you into an amphitheater and ramble on in French about the professors and shit. Then you depart for classes. But you don't know where they're located. By each course listing there's a combination of letters and numbers...but no building.

I was scrambling around trying to find my class while some professors held up sheets of paper and led their students to the designated classroom. Of course my professor didn't do that so I'm walking back and forth through the lobby. I'm practically in tears by this point and the lobby is beginning to clear of its international students. Finally, I ask one of the professors where I'm supposed to go and she tells me to walk upstairs. You might assume that Salle 313 is on the third floor, but you're wrong. It's actually on the fifth floor, because apparently that makes a lot more sense.

Anyway, I walk into class and immediately understand everything the professor is saying. I realize this is a terrible sign, because in Prof. Malicote's class at home I'm baffled about 60% of the time. After going to my langue classes I realize I've been placed in intermediate French which is way too easy for me. I mean, I was doing literary analyses last semester and wrote a 6-page dissertation on Camus. I should be in upper-level French. I did not come all way from the States to learn passé composé and imparfait again. Ahh. I'm rather stressed and I'm going to talk to my professor about moving me up several levels. But as stated before, nothing in this country comes easily for internationals so we'll see. C'est la vie.

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