January 30, 2013


While I have gotten somewhat used to never having a clue as to what is going on at my school, whether it be the administration or assignments, I must admit some things still throw me for a loop.

Unlike most French universities, UTT does let its students choose some of their classes. As a graduate student, the choices are usually between two or three pre-selected classes, but first semester we even had an UV libre, or a free class, where we were allowed to pick “any” class we wanted (any class that fit into our already set schedule, which did reduce the choices considerably).

Despite registration for the second semester being a week away, we had yet to receive any information about which classes we would be taking next semester. In the guide des UV (course catalogue) there is a list of classes we are supposed to take. However, it lists all possible classes, and does not say which ones are mandatory, and which ones we may choose between.

Le guide des UV (course catalogue)

Never mind the fact that I think the school should inform us without us having to ask, wanting to research my choices, I finally gave in and sent an email to our program director.

To which she responded, “Yes, I’ll do that soon. By the way, when is registration?”

And when I sent her the registration dates, which were not only on all of the school websites but also had been emailed to the whole school several times over, I got an automatic reply from her inbox. “Je suis absente jusqu'au mois d'aout et ne pourrai prendre connaissance de votre message avant mon retour (I will be absent until August and wont be able to look at any messages until my return).”

So much for registering for classes on time.

January 22, 2013


Despite being certifiably fluent in French (as was the requirement for my masters program), the first days of school seemed such a language blur. My every day familiar language wasn’t enough.

Technical vocabulary aside, I could tell I’d lost some of my ability over the 8 months spent at home. It has come back to me over time, with hard work and lots of intense listening, leading me to the last week of lectures where I understood everything the teachers said. Well, almost everything.

When giving us details about one of our final exams, the head teacher explained that normalement (normally) we are allowed the use of documents for certain questions posed by different guest lecturers. To me, that left a certain amount of doubt about whether or not things would be the same this year.

After that we didn’t hear whether the test was open book or not, and so I studied everything.

Come test day, it was written on the exam which parts had authorized documents, and which hadn’t. A sense of relief poured over me. This test was going to go better than I had thought.

After the exam, I expressed my sense of joy at being able to use the materials from lecture to my fellow students.

I was the only one relieved, however.

To my French counterparts, the normalement wasn’t so ambiguous.

They expected to be able to use their documents.

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