I wish the french wore deodorant
22.9.08 - 26.9.08
This week was my first entire week going to classes with the other french students. As a whole, I have to say I'm very relieved that I understand all of my professors. None of them have some funky fucked up accent, although one of them talks a bit fast and in an abstract manner (but that's what I get for taking a class on the absurd right?). On Monday I had Italian, which I felt I was fairly competent in, but I don't think my teacher likes me. Even though there were other international students in the class, I was the only American and she just didn't like any of the answers I gave for anything... she even came up to me, speaking in italian, asking me if I understood her as if I was some sort of moron. I have to admit that I haven't even spoken a word of italian in 4 months, so I'm really rusty, but that's nothing a little look in my italian book won't cure. I can't wait to go back next week and talk up a storm. Oh and yea, I did say "next week." Most classes here are only once a week (unless they have a study session). All my classes except for one only meet once a week for 2 hours (except for my Cinema class that meets for 3 hours every two weeks). Everything is just a big mess with classes! I even have a class that starts some days at 8am, others at 8:30am and times when we don't meet at all. It can be very confusing. I think I need a bulletin board.. LOL
Next, I have two classes at the DEFLE (center for foreign students studying french), Theatre and Art History. Theater is an unbelievably easy course, I just have to memorize a silly little skit and do silly exercises. Art History is probably one of the most boring classes I've ever taken in my life, but I'm going to suck it up and take it because it's really easy. Back at the university I'm taking three more classes, Cultural History, which is very interesting and has a great lecturer, a class about Literature of the absurd (We're going to study Kafka) and that seems interesting so far, and my last class is Cinema, but we didn't meet this week so I still have no idea how it is. I hope it's 3 hours long because we're watching movies. *sigh* I did assist one more class, Modern History (all about Louis XVI) but the professor was so into himself! Not only that, in the section for that class (which was 2.5 hours long) we're supposed to do some oral presentation. As soon as I heard that, I was OUT. I have a shitty time doing oral presentations in English, I'm not about to stand in front of 30 french kids and butcher their language. The thought was just too terrifying. Thankfully, since signing up for classes here is so chaotic, I didn't even have to worry about dropping the class because I was never enrolled. I think as of now I'm only actually enrolled in 4 classes, I still have to talk to get into two others. The cool thing about classes here is that they don't "close" if there's too many students. They're willing to accommodate everyone, and so far as I've seen, no classes are really overflowing. I think it has something to do with the fact that at this University there's no such thing as general education. Students who come to learn history only take history courses and that goes for every discipline... which is cool, but sucks for international students who want to take all kinds of courses but find that all the classes conflict with each other. *sigh* But what is nice is that there are absolutely no classes from 12:30-1:30, so no matter how busy your schedule is, you always have an hour for lunch.
That's about it for school, but changing topics, I feel like I have to talk about the French-American relationship. There are some people that are fucking rude to us, they think we can't understand them so they'll just come up to us and growl at us or something... it hasn't happened to me, but it has to others. There are also those who speak a couple of lines of English and try to talk shit, which is always the worst because you know if you try to speak back to them in french you're just going to sound as stupid as they do trying to speak English. On the other hand, there are also the French that are unbelievably polite, or (although rare), the french that LOVE AMERICANS and/or everything American. They LOVE, LOVE, LOVE McDonalds. Le Mcdo is one of the few places open after dark and you can always find french people walking around eating fries or a mcflurry on the street. I know there are some Mcdonalds that have drive-thrus, but not on this side of the river (Bordeaux is separated in 2 by the river "La Garonne"). So on this side of the river, we have "Guichets à Emporter" which are just carry-out windows open until about midnight. Aside from Mcdonalds, the french also LOVE Converse All-Stars. At first I just noticed that there were tons of different designs and then I realized that most people just have imitation converse. I saw real ones on sale for 50 Euro, which is about 75 USD. They are just so expensive, no wonder everyone has imitation. The fact of it is, they just love the style. Also, in the clubs, they play tons of hip-hop and other American music. They sing along and get sooooo EXCITED when they play some cheap 90's jam like "Whoop! There It Is"... I just think this whole love/hate relationship is really interesting. In the end, we're just different than them and each person fights with him/herself on whether they should dislike us from the beginning or actually give us a chance, but one thing is for sure, they know who we are, we couldn't hide our "Americanness" if we tried!
Finally, I just have a final note about Mustard. My roommate and I have been going nuts over the mustard here. It's so intense! But really good. You can get some really great mustard for really cheap. It's so strong sometimes that it can clear up your sinuses! Being a big fan of condiments, I am going to miss yellow mustard, since here they only have different variations of Dijon. Also, in general, most of the condiments taste different. They put real sugar in the ketchup instead of corn syrup so it's much sweeter.. which is okay, but I'm a little used to the one in the states. The mayo is also especially "eggy" here, but I actually don't mind it. It tastes really fresh. (But my roommate hates it.. so the condiments are definitely something to get used to)