Thursday, January 6, 2011

Introduction Aux Grands Systemes du Droit Etranger

I am finished.  I took my final and I am done.

So for future me, if you don't remember you freak out and stress about everything.  I doubt you'll have changed much by the time you re-read this but I just wanted to underline that point.  Don't get me wrong, I hope you do change, but let's be realistic here.

So anyway, back to the story of my final.  As I mentioned yesterday, I got back into Paris yesterday morning after a flight where I got virtually no sleep.  When I got home I checked my e-mail, did some facebooking and fell asleep.  I planned on taking a short nap and studying for my final.  I gave my self until 1PM to sleep.  I feel asleep at 11AM.  1PM came and my alarm went off.  Then I pushed snooze.  2PM came and I pushed snooze.  By 3PM I just turned off my alarm and said screw it.  I knew I wasn't doing myself any favors as far as adjusting to the time change but I was so tired it didn't matter.

At 6PM I woke up and just kind of oriented myself.  I hadn't had any food since the croissant they gave us an hour before landing on the plane.  I knew I needed to go to the store and get some food, but I was still too tired and lazy to do it (quel surpise).  So at 8PM I went out and got, what else, a kebab from my kebab friends down the street.  I got home, watched some Futurama and ended up crashing around 10:30PM.  I got no studying done.

I was okay with not getting any studying done because I knew I was going to wake up really early today.  As predicted I woke up at 5:00AM and couldn't fall back asleep.  It didn't help that the people above me sounded like they were salsa dancing then, but it didn't matter.  I wasn't really that tired anymore.  So I got up, made some hot chocolate and had a madeline as my breakfast.  Then I watched the news.  It was 5:30AM.  I still had five and a half hours to go and re-watch the lectures that I didn't go to.  With all that time I could watch one or even two.

So with that confidence of my time management skills I went on facebook and talked to my friends who I knew would be on.  After talking with them for an hour and a half, I got super tired.  That was fine.  It was only eight, so I could sleep from then until nine and still watch one full lecture.  Yeah.... I got up at 10:20AM.  I had enough time to shower and get down to the school though.

But let us just recap my preparation for this final.  No lectures watched.  I didn't reread my paper.  I didn't really touch anything for this course since I left France.  Needless to say the entire walk to the metro I felt like I was going to pass out.  Trying to plug my headphones into my iPod was the hardest thing I had done in a while because my hands were shaking and I couldn't get a good grip on the plug.

On the sheet that told us our times it also gave a location.  It said B 101.  I thought I knew where that was so I went to the building where I figured it would be.  I had to ask the security guards but I was in the right place.  Ok, so that went well.  I at least made it to the right room.

Waiting outside that room every possible fantasy of what that oral exam was going to be like flashed through my mind.  When it was explained to me at the beginning of the semester, they said it was going to be you defending the paper you wrote in front of three people.  I figured that there was no way I was going to pass it because I can barely speak french (in an academic setting, my conversational french is pretty good) and I don't know a lot about different legal systems.  In addition to defending your paper, they said the jury was going to ask you questions to verify that you attended lectures.  Great.... They were going to totally know I didn't go to the lectures, although even if I had I wouldn't have understood them.

So when the door opened I was expecting some old frenchman with a furrowed brow to lead me into the room and sit me down in front of the panel.  My heart was beating so loud I literally felt my chest move in and out with every pump.  I could hear the exam before me going on.  I wondered how it was going, how he did.  Then the student opened the door.  He didn't look that defeated so I had hope.  Then I saw who my examiner was.

A handsome young french man, no more than thirty opened the door.  He was dressed in a full three piece suit (sans tie) and had at least three days beard growth on his face.  He asked me if it was cool if I waited a few minutes for him to go get something to drink.  I said it was no problem.  Once he got back he invited me in.  He started off by asking me if I was related to the philosopher John Rawls.

Complete tangent, but back at UCSB no one knows who that guy is.  Here, I've been asked at least three times if I was related to him.  I love seeing their face when I tell them John Rawls is my father.  Then I tell them it's a different John Rawls, but they still think it is pretty cool.

Anyway, he invites me in and I sit down.  He just says "Je vous ecoute."  I ask him what I am supposed to do.  He says just talk about the paper I've written and he will ask me questions when he has some.  In my broken french, I describe what the common law system is and how it differs from the Civil Law system.  Then I describe the creation and tradition of the UK Supreme Court and then the tradition of the US Supreme Court.  After I finish he asks me a few questions about Jurisprudence in the US and a lot about US Supreme Court.  But before I know it was done.

On the walk home, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted.  I knew that I passed, so I passed the course.  The biggest source of stress, the reason why I didn't want to come back to France, was done and finished forever.  I have never been more tempted to go out and buy some champagne to celebrate than I was after I finished that final.

I guess I'll just have to weight another two months for that!

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