Thursday, January 28, 2010

une grande probleme

OKAY. So, I am NOT homesick, but the things that are lacking in my life here are finally starting to dawn on me.

First of all, you can't eat in the school library here. I don't know about you, but I don't even begin to think about studying at UCI without food & coffee in my hands.

Also, both the cafe near my house AND the school library close at 7PM. I don't think the reasons why this upsets me really needs explainations.

Also, food here is REALLLY expensive (not at school, LUCKILY, but everywhere else). For a culture that drinks coffee all of the time, it sure is expensive. I have yet to find hot chocholate for less than 2 Euro 60, which is something like 4 dollars. It's ridiculous.

The other thing I miss is classes that I understand. As I've alluded to before, I'm taking the Methodologie class offered by the UC Center. It's supposed to help us learn how to think differently by learning how to form an essays the way our French classes will require. It is, in theory, an excellent idea. My problem is, however, that I can't understand the French, so I can't even begin to understand the content of the class.

Today, we had to show the professor our rewritten versions of the introductions she had already corrected for us. I literally have no idea what's going on, so I've just been turning in paragraphs that don't really make sense to me, but that are closer to what she wants than (possibly?) and American intro would look like. Anyway, after correcting mine today (I didn't understand her corrections, obviously, because they were in French), she finally told me that I had a French vocabulary problem (duh). She recommended a specific vocab book for me to buy, and then she asked if I planned on taking my History courses here, at the actual University, or at DEFLE, which are the classes taught in French but for foreigners. I told her the University, and she said that that would be a problem (obviously! I apparently learned, like, no vocabulary in my previous French classes).

But this is all really confusing, because when I took my DEFLE placement test, they placed me at the same level as almost everyone else (including my friends who are really good at French, and who were in the advanced ILP course). The level I placed at is designated as the one where they think we can handle taking classes at DEFLE or at the University, so I don't know what all of this contradictory information means.

I REALLY do NOT want to be at DEFLE (which I went to, and it wasn't easy either) with all foreigners. I also don't want to take Methodologie anymore. On one hand, I know that being in the class can only help me with my grades for my real classes -- but on the other hand, I'd rather do badly at a class that is too advanced for me, than do badly at a class that I should be able to understand but don't. My friends tell me my logic doesn't make sense, but I don't like feeling clueless in a classes designed specifically for the UC kids.

And I can't ask the professor for clarification, because I don't understand her explainations (they are, as you probably guessed, in French).

The schedule of the History classes finally came out, at least. I'm going to go to as many as possible the first week and see what I can handle. I'm trying to prepare myself for the possibility that I won't be able to handle any of them. In that case, I haven't exactly figured out what I'm going to do -- I probably shouldn't be letting this little secret out, but I can technically not pass any of my classes here, and still finish at UCI within four years, so....I guess what I mean is, I'm not worried about the effects of not doing well, but I AM worried about being miserable until the end of the semester. It seems like in that case, it makes more sense to just chill in France until whenever instead of being in school, right? OBVIOUSLY, this is all rhetorical and irresponsible, but....if it comes to it, I doubt I'll learn anything by being in classes that I don't understand one word of. I'm sure many of you will disagree with that, and you can tell me so.

The other thing that's starting to hit me, is that I've been reminded that somewhere in the middle of my Sophomore year of college, I suddenly lost the ability to truly study and do work like I had been able to do before. My grades have still been fine, but something definitely changed. And here, when I think about what reading a book in French means, I literally cannot picture myself doing that. That's the other thing -- all of the people in my program, even the non--French majors, have had to read one novel or another in French, but I have NEVER had to, so the idea of doing so much work is literally incomprehensible. Literally. Really -- do they expect me to go through word by word with a dictionary? There isn't enough time in the world for such things. I LOVE LEARNING, but I will definitely admit that I am NOT willing to do the work that goes along with it most of the time. It's unfortunate, but it's the truth. I just don’t know what this means for me and my classes here, but I suppose I will find out.

I don't know. I think Methodologie and my recent lack of internet has put me in a bad mood.

BUT, my friends and I have reduced-visibility tickets for the Magic Flute tonight at the opera (8 Euros!), and I'll be in Lourdes Friday night through Sunday, so all is not completely lost.



  1. Amelia, don't worry - but PLEASE DO respond to my emails!!!!!

  2. I respond when I get them! Don't forget -- I don't have the internet anymore until our new internet box comes next week :(

  3. Can you just take one, maybe two history classes, and simultaneously take some more immersion french classes while you are there? You are there to learn french, no? You can learn history here.

  4. all i can offer is sympathy. i was in similar situation in college when i was placed much too high in italian, based i think on the hand gestures that i picked up in naples - the result was 2 years of misery in a subject that could have been a pleasure.