Now that a whole semester has passed, I can see more clearly the differences between the French university system and the American university system. The grading system is the most apparent difference (beyond the fact that all of my classes are in French): it is on a scale of 1-20, with a 10/20 being considered a passing grade. This definitely took some pressure off of my shoulders, given that my French professor was a very tough grader. Also, a lot of my conferences at La Sorbonne were very lecture-style, with the professor presenting a topic and no time for discussions and in some cases even questions. Coming from a smaller university back in the US, this took some time for me to get used to.
Honestly, I didn’t even realize how much I missed certain things from home until the holidays came around. I miss having a sweet-smelling Christmas tree and a kitchen warmed by an oven that is constantly in use. Luckily, I am currently visiting family and Strasbourg (and later Poland) for the holidays, so I get to recreate my Christmas in another part of the world. Another thing I realize that I miss from home is big diner-style breakfasts available every day of the week. Sure, you can brunch here in Paris on Sundays, but it’s not enough for me. I’m craving scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, home fries and toast all together on one lovely, heartache-inducing plate.
Luckily, my last trip to the UK took care of some of my other cravings (Mexican food and a cheeseburger). Even though the food certainly made the trip worth it, the chance to visit friends studying in London and Oxford were the top reasons for the trip to the UK. I indulged my Harry Potter fangirl side with visits to Platform 9 ¾, the Great Hall, Millennium Bridge, and the courtyard where Draco Malfoy was turned into a ferret in the 4th movie.
Even though I saved most of my travel for the spring, I still managed to see a lot of great things within Paris and outside of it and France. I can’t seem to decide what order to put these in, but here is a list of the top ten things I’ve seen during my study abroad:
- Paris Disneyland
- Christmas markets (in London, Paris, and Strasbourg)
- The châteaux of the Loire Valley
- London on sunny days (can you believe it?! Sun, in London!)
- Random street art (bunnies scattered in random squares across London)
- The exhibitions along the Seine on Quai Branley
- The Louvre
- La Fête des Vendanges
- The Eiffel Tower when it’s sparkling
- Rows upon rows of freshly-baked pastries
I probably should not blog when I’m hungry, but there you have it! Food is an important part of French culture, so I’ll use that to excuse all the talk of food in this entry.
Academic Year 2011-2012