"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…
- 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**
- A few times, I have found myself responding (correctly) without thinking – huge step.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.