I sort of felt that having already lived in France for 2.5 years straight and being part of the educational world (as my days as an English language assistant) combined with all the stories that exFBF told me about getting his masters and what school was like, that I was already pretty prepared for going to college in France.
This, however, was not the case.
The first surprise came on the very first day when not a single teacher passed out a syllabus, and instead dictated the important facts, deadlines, and grading policies. This was not a pleasant experience for my rusty French and me.
I had already heard exFBF complain about classes that lasted four hours, but I thought long classes were a rare exception, not the rule. Most of my classes are at least three hours long (with one class lasting four), and even though some of my teachers give us a ten-minute break in the middle, I have been poorly trained to pay attention to the same subject matter for such a long time. My brain starts to check out after two.
I know that some of the changes have to do with school size. My university back home had 20,000 students and an eight-story library with a room open 24/7. My new university has 2,500 students and a two-story library, which closes at 22h.
Top: UTT (my French school) Bottom: UCSB (my American school)
But even taking into account the difference in size of the student body, my new school seems under developed to provide for the student’s needs. There is never enough space in the library, and nowhere else on campus is open for students to work on group projects (which I seem to have at least one of in every class).
So far I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed with my coarse load and constantly being in a French language environment. One might say I'm experiencing pedagogical culture shock, if such a thing exists.