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The French Educational System (and why it’s a crazy headache)

Being in France is a constant reminder that I am American. Fully and truly 100% Murican. One of the largest examples that have been most apparent to me in the last couple of days has been my regard towards education.

I need order. I need exact times and dates. Tell me how many credits I need. Tell me due dates and expectations. Give me standards and I will rise above. Let me be responsible, diligent, detail-oriented, above and beyond.

Yeah, this is not the French way of doing this.

This week we got sorted into our different levels and had classes ready for us. Out of 5 levels, I am in level 4 (thank the Lord!) along with my ever-patient and wonderful room mate. We have one four-hour class a day for intensive French language. We study everything from grammar, pronunciation, comprehension, writing, culture. Our professor, Madame Brémond, is excellent and I really like her and am learning a lot. It’s just been a headache getting it together.

It turns out that due dates are a fluid term and while the teachers are super helpful, administration is harder to handle. Granted we are a specific and more organized branch of the University of Aix-Marsaille, I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like for an American to really take courses there. Our director of our Gordon program says it’s a normal annoyance to Americans to become more flexible, which is understandable, but it’s been a tough one. One awesome example of when the French way pays off is with professors’  vacations; Madame Brémond already had dates aside for her own vacation so we ended up getting quite a few classes cancelled (and made up on other afternoons of course) and now have another break for traveling!

I’m having a blast in Aix but sometimes I totally forget that I am here to learn. And as I’m finding out, I’m not learning only French but patience and flexibility.

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