Tuesday, August 31, 2010

J'ai peur

France has a certain smell to it.  Now, I know you are saying "How can you generalize like that? Certainly an entire country can't have a smell!"  You are wrong.  It does.  When I open my door the same smell that I smelled in Nice fills my nostrils.  It is the same smell that I smelled in Avingnon also.  It is a mixture of car exhaust and cigarette smoke, but its more than that.  It is the smell of buildings that are literally centuries old.  It is the smell of ancient Roman ruins built into the side of modern apartment buildings.  It is a humbling and wonderful smell.

That smell can only comfort me so much.  Today we started our orientation classes.  I didn't know that I had a language class this morning so I may have missed that one... Oops...  But in my defense no one told me about it and the Science Po website is a bit confusing!  But I did go to my methodology class.  That is the class where the instructor tells us how to survive the French education system.  May I say I have never been more petrified for anything in my life than my 3 French courses?

Here is a list of the types of assignments the professor may give us:

Exposé: a 10 minute presentation in front of the class on a subject the professor gives us, followed by a          period of questions and answers
Fiche technique: a 1-4 page synopsis of a subject the professor gives us
Fiche de lecture: a 1-4 page synopsis of a book the professor assigns
Revue de presse: a 1-4 page outline of a major article in the news
Débat: Much like the exposé, you get in front of the class and take a position and defend it against another student for 10 minutes
Commentaire de document: an analysis of a text, much like a DBQ from any AP History class
Dissertation: a 3-5 page paper that stresses a rational, organized approach to an argument.

OK, I can barely write in English, how do they expect me to do any of that in French?!  (I use spell check for my blog... a lot...)

The instructor also gave us a list of names we have to be familiar with.  These include Hobbes, Rousseau, Rawls (no, not my father or grandfather but a different John Rawls), Marx, Tocqueville, Montesquieu, Weber, Schmitt, Wittgenstien, etc.

I'm in for a rough ride...

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