10 JAN 2017

To say the least, the French system for class/course registration may be a bit… how do you say, complicated? Yes, that is the word. All last week, we spent time in school orientations for EM Strasbourg Business School. A portion of our group will be attending classes there, and so we all had the pleasure of sitting in on orientation. The auditorium classroom was near-full of international students like ourselves from all over the world. There were students from Russia, Canada, Korea, Peru, and more than I can currently recall. We all used English to communicate, though, despite it being a French university in France. This, I found interesting. So it would seem that English is truly a global language. According to Robert Lane Greene in 1843 Magazine by the Economist, French is the best language to learn.

Continuing on, the auditorium was near-full. We all sat and talked until the speakers were prepared to present. Over the two-hour talk, we learned that this was not going to be easy. EM students are students both of the University of Strasbourg and the EM school. Each school has its own online system which must be navigated. These two systems are not connected. On one, a student can see the list of classes and even add courses to their own schedule, but that does not mean you have registered for those classes. You must then take those course codes to the other system and there register during a predetermined date and time. Word to the wise, registration may or may not go through. There is an additional two-day period immediately following registration in which some students may be dropped from classes. It is the responsibility of the student to make sure they know if this happens to them or not.

Still with me? After the talk, we all went to get out student ID cards. This is where we learn about needing French social security insurance before that can happen. Fun times. After the next few days of orientations and registration, EM students are situated and off to classes. Now it is my turn. There are four of us staying at the château who are going to a different school within University of Strasbourg. We are attending the very special l’Institut d’Études Politiques, or more simply Sciences Po (pronounced SEE-ahnce PO).

This morning, our small group went and registered as official students of Sciences Po. It was relatively painless compared to what the EM students struggled through. This Friday, we all get to register for classes. By the 16th, I should have my student ID card, and my classes should begin shortly thereafter. To say the least, I am very excited about starting classes.

In the meantime, it is back to waiting. We hop back on the usual Bus 15 at the Marne stop to return to Pourtalès. More stomping through the snow,, more steps, more exercise I suppose. Maybe I really will lose some weight while I am here. That would be nice. For lunch, I have a PB+Nutella&J sandwich. I spend a little time reading and writing as well. By 6 PM, there is a French class. For the first hour and a half, we go through a beginner’s refresher in French. For the second hour and a half, we converse freely in French. It is nice to be speak a little confidently in French. It is satisfying to realize that I can understand most of what is said.

I typically do well in my classes, but language courses have proven most difficult for me. I did well in Beginning French 1001 and 1002, but then the Intermediate level and on started to really press my abilities. I struggle mostly with vocabulary and pronunciation. It turns out, I need to speak more and with more confidence. I need to let myself make mistakes and not be upset when I do. Huh, nice life advice even if not just for learning a new language.


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