So I have finally officially started lessons at the Sorbonne this week! Somewhat unsurprisingly, the theme of disorganization continued with my first class on Monday morning. The classroom had been double-booked, and we ended up standing around for at least half an hour until my teacher finally won the battle for the room (this involved a rather lengthy ‘discussion’ between the two profs and resulted in my teacher dragging the site manager down from his office!) The first two days were rather overwhelming and tiring, but I already feel quite at ease and like I mostly understand what’s going on. That said, I found it rather difficult concentrating in one lesson, where I am actually taught by the most beautiful French man ever. I think I got a bit too overexcited and flustered when he spoke to us after class and scared James and Nikki a bit!
Being English definitely seems to be a grand attraction here – I have been told several times how much amazing the British accent is and in my translation class today I was asked to read out the English text so that the class could hear a ‘true British accent’ (no pressure…) Being from London is definitely a bonus, as I never have to struggle to explain where exactly I am from. According to most Europeans, England consists only of London, just as we tend to think only of Paris when picturing France. I’ve also already been asked to deliver a presentation on the differences between French and English uni by one of my history teachers. This request instantly prompted me to compare the two systems, and I can already see a lot of differences:
– The French take learning rather seriously. My classes are at least an hour and a half long, and I have some two hour long lectures! It’s hard to stay focused for that amount of time.
– 8am starts? No thanks. I have avoided these like the plague.
– Some of my lectures (cours magistraux) are massive, sometimes with students having to make do and sit on the floor or stand up at the back. Most of my seminars (travaux dirigés) are also pretty large. Personally, I’m finding a lot of these like lectures seeing as there’s not much interaction and we’re still essentially listening to the teacher and taking notes.
– I am pretty impressed with the translation classes here. There is a lot more interaction and chances to speak. Having an hour and a half means you can be more thorough and get a lot more done.
– I do feel a lot like I’m back at school – sitting in rows with the prof at the front and being given homework! This is definitely rather different to Warwick.
– Really appreciating the benefits of a campus uni now. There is barely anything to do at Clignancourt and Malesherbes. Though spending 50 cents on a cappuccino from a vending machine is a lot cheaper than me wasting away my money in the Humanities café.
Had a chance to unwind after classes yesterday evening and went for a drink with a group of Sorbonne students. I managed to add to my list of nationalities that I’ve met here (South Korea, Martinique and Romania!) La Rontonde has its very own ‘Bar du Coin’, which definitely lives up to its name, it is literally a corner of the brasserie and got rather crowded. Another fun night with fellow Erasmus students!
La Rontonde – 6-8, Place de la Bataille de Stalingrad 75019
Metro : Jaurès (2,5,7) or Stalingrad (2,5,7)