The Good Week

"I'm ready for school."

Let me just get this out of the way….. brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.  If you haven’t heard, we are freezing over here in Europe. Check out these photos. I have spent most of the week bundled up in the warmest clothes I can find or with my feet against my bedroom radiator. But other than that, it has been a good week!

As I write this, I have finished my 5th week of classes. If you read, Testing My Confidence, you know that I made it into the Level 2 group, which was a pleasant surprise.  My happiness was quickly destroyed because the first week at the University, I understood almost nothing of what was going on in class. I was also frustrated because it seemed as though all the other students were following along easily. But after a few days,  I discovered everyone in my group had much more experience (3, 4, 5 years).  Based on my 1 year of formal classes (at 1.25 hours per week), I was actually doing pretty good.  So, I’d say the first week, my comprehension level was about 5% (generously speaking). To bruise my ego further, a professor approached me and asked if I would like to move down a level. I can’t say I didn’t consider it, but after much thought, I decided to tough it out and stay put.

So, in my group there are 15 students. 4 Japanese, 2 Americans, 2 Turks, 2 Serbians, 1 Russian, 1 Moroccan, 1 Finnish, 1 Syrian and one guy who I can’t understand, but I’m guessing he’s from somewhere in Eastern Europe. There are only 3 men. Girl Power! We range from ages 20 to 50.  Only a few of us have a common language, so most of the time we speak french. Basically, it is quite a diverse group.  My classes are 22 hours per week with 12 different professors who cover the subjects, writing/oral comprehension and expression, civilisation, grammar and phonetics. Right now, my favorite class would be writing expression and least favorite (hands down) would be grammar. I find it interesting most of the teachers rarely ever break stride and speak English, when I know that most of them are totally capable.

So, the current State of the Union – I’m happy to report that I am on fire this week! There are many reasons…

  1. Normally, I dread Wednesdays and Thursdays due to them being jam-packed with grammar and teachers that are not my favorite. However, this week I understood a lot (estimating 60% comprehension). Also, I received the results of my relative pronouns test and did surprisingly well. Even better than some students who are in their 2nd semester. Needless to stay, I was pumped! **NERD**
  2. A few times, I have found myself responding (correctly) without thinking – huge step.
  3. One day this week, my group met with “real french students” at the University and because my partner was kind of lame, I lead the entire conversation, for 2 hours! She seemed to understand me, but maybe she was just being nice. Whatever, I was happy to be understood, even if it was just a little bit.
  4. Next, I received news that I’m finally getting my student card next week. This gives me big discounts when using transportation, going to the movies, restaurants, etc. And more importantly, I need my student card to apply for a long stay residence permit. Good thing since my current permit expires in mid-March. Oh, the efficiency of French Administration.
  5. And lastly, Henri and I are getting along famously. In other words, I have driven a whole week without any stalls or major catastrophes. I even successfully ventured outside my 5km comfort radius to give cousin Jade a ride to the equestrian stables.

In the past month, I have grown a lot, but still have a long way to go.  At the end of May, I plan to take the DELF exam (Diplome d’Etudes en Langue Francaise) . This would certify my language ability and be essential in the event I ever wanted to get a job here. Realistically speaking, it’s a bit of a longshot, but, with the luck I’ve been having lately I might just surprise myself and pass!

And for your viewing pleasure, here are a few pictures of the University campus.

The tram which I often take because I'm too scared to drive into Orléans by myself.

One of the 3 student cafeteria's. Here you can get a 4 course meal served by a disgruntled kitchen worker for 3€!

The "Lake" in the center of campus - more like a pond if you ask me...

The department where most of my classes are held.

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