Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Le Deuxième Semestre

February 14, 2011

This semester is infinitely better than the last.  The first, and most striking difference is my course load.  I only have courses Thursdays and Fridays.  All but one course is taught in English.  None of them are about law. 

I have two 8:00AM courses, but it isn’t all that bad.  My Thursday morning 8:00AM is Money Laundering.  This course is going to be awesome.   It is taught by two French guys, both lawyers who specialize in white-collar crime.  I wanted to get my exposé out of the way quickly so I signed up to go for the second course.  My topic was Money Laundering and Casinos.  Basically if you need small amounts of money laundered through casinos, ask me because I have a fairly good (albeit theoretical) knowledge of how that process works.  Unfortunately, the day I was supposed to present, my professor wasn’t there.  I was super annoyed, but c’est la vie. 

The only other course I have on Thursdays is Musique et Politique.  I am not 100% how I am going to like this course, but so far so good.  I have a friend from last semester in it with me, and a girl from UPenn and I bonded last class over this girl’s ridiculously long and tedious exposé.  I don’t think it is going to be too terribly difficult either. 

Fridays are my days full of class.  In the morning, I have French 3.  Basically it is like my French 2 course, with a bit more structure.  Last semester I completely lucked out because my prof kind of didn’t really assign grades to our stuff.  This semester I think she will, but the course still seems like it will be pretty fun.  I have my exposé on March 11, and I believe I am going to give it on the importance of birthdays in the US, seeing as how my twenty-first is three days after. 

Then, at 12:30PM I have Online Social Networks.  This course is so much fun.  My professor has spent his entire professional life becoming an expert on social media.  We basically talk about the facets of social media and how they have shaped the modern world.  We’re going to talk about virtually everything from online dating to cyber bullying to political campaigns.  I really enjoy this class and the professor.  The reading is a bit dry, but he talks about it in class and makes it a bit more interesting. 

Right after that, I go straight to US Constitutional Law.  It is taught by a really nice American guy who was born near Philadelphia, grew up in New Orleans and then went to the University of Texas.  He seems to have a good general understanding of how the course is taught.  He knows a lot about different Supreme Court decisions and the like.  However (and keep in mind I HATE students who act like they know more than the professor) I feel like I could teach the course as well as he could.  Nothing he has said was new.  It is basically like an easier version of AP US Government.  I think I am going to like it a lot.  I have to write a paper and do my exposé on the question if whether Free Speech has limits in the US.  Luckily the Supreme Court has done a lot of the thinking behind that question for me. 

Finally, Friday evenings are occupied by French Geopolitics.  I have a French professor who has a really strange accent.  It’s as if he learned English from a German with a British accent.  This course is also very interesting, but I am not sure how well I am going to do.  I say that because the professor seems to have a very strict idea of what he wants you to say and in my experience I never come to the same conclusions as my professors. 

All in all, I think this semester is shaping up to be a fantastic one.  I couldn’t love my schedule any more than I do.  I have even profited a little bit from it already.  Today I spent the day taking, or reenacting famous black and white pictures around Paris. 

This city has changed so much since I first got here.  I haven’t reread any of my blog posts because I told myself I wouldn’t do that until after the year was over.  But I know that this city has changed.  It doesn’t even smell the same to me anymore.  I may be used to the smell of it, or the weather may be bringing up new aromas, but it just smells different.

When I first got here, there was so much romance and mystery in the air.  Every breeze that blew begged me to go exploring and find out everything I could.  That sense of adventure and excitement has died.  It may be that winter killed it.  But to say that it is completely dead would not be fair.  Given my rather large amount of free time, I have walked about a bit and from time to time I have gotten a whiff that reminded me why I chose to study abroad here.

On days when the sun is out and shining (which is rare) that familiar scent is carried to me from some far off unexplored part of this city.  I am reminded that there is so much to do in this place and that I need to make sure that every day I take advantage.  When that breeze rushes around me, part of my soul is replenished.  In all fairness, that part of my soul was first crushed by the bureaucracy of this country, but that is neither here nor there. 

I could not be more excited for the days when the leaves on the trees return, when I can go outside in nothing more than a t-shirt and sweater, when I can have dinners on the balcony with my roommate.  Paris is the city of love, and to me love means endless possibilities.  It is more than the feeling between two people.  On the rare occasions the powers that be in the universe decide to remind me how amazingly fortunate I am, I really do try and appreciate all that I have done.

Talking to my friends about what I have done really helps putting things in perspective.  Already I have gone to Scotland, Belgium, the Neatherlands, Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Spain.  I’ve gone salsa dancing in a bull ring, I’ve tasted strudel in the alps, I’ve seen the pissing boy and so many more things I couldn’t possibly list everything off the top of my head.

Vive la France.              

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