Emploi du temps

I have my definitive schedule for the semester! I though I’d share which classes and why I’m taking each one!


a three week required course, it basically goes over the proper way to write a paper, give a presentation, etc in French.  This course is used to make sure we understand the French way of education is different than ours and to not make in grave mistakes.



This course counts as a core requirement for the French Cultural Studies major (yes I changed my major again, I decided that French cultural major is a better idea for me than French Literature).  I’m actually possibly going to count this as a LA-AS (language and arts requirement for College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell) requirement as well… I need to send the course description (which I need to translate)  to my advising Dean…. so many things on my to do list. Not to mention, this course is super interesting.  So far we’ve learned about the creation of cinéma and we are going to study films that are from Paris and/or about Paris.  This class is also reading-intensive which I hadn’t planned on.


Sociology de la culture française

Big surprise here, I loved this class!  It basically compares the french culture with itself during different time periods.  The professor is super up-beat and the class is very small.  We used different means such as psychiatry, art history, and religious architecture to compare the culture of France before and after the revolution! This class counts as an elective for the French major.  Also, it will fulfill a distribution requirement, I hope it fulfills Cultural analysis (Arts and Sciences) requirement, although I may have to settle for social bonding requirement.  I have to email for that as well.  Additionally, to apply to Osteopathic medical schools, I have to take two behavioral science classes and this will fulfill one of those requirements.


Psychanalyse: Naissance de la Psychanalyse

I can only count three classes for my major this semester so this is my freebie class.  This class will fill my social bonding arts and science requirement (we have to have a certain number of distribution requirements, do it’s okay if I have two of the same category).  Furthermore this class will count as a behavioral science class for Osteopathic medical schools.  So why psychanalyse?  Well this is the only psychology class at the intro level that fit in my schedule that I could take (their course scheduling is very different here).  This class so far has talked about Freud and the struggle for psychanalyse to be considered legitimate as well as the struggle for it to become a profession outside of medicine.


Histoire de l’Afrique Noire au 19e Siècle

History of subsaharan Africa in the 19th century.  This fulfill Historical Analysis and geographical breadth requirement for Arts and Sciences and it fulfills my francophone requirement for a French elective.  This class talks about Africa before and during colonization.  We spoke mostly about politics and religion in the last class.  Also, the professor is my absolute favorite.  In class on Thursday, she would pay attention to me because she knows I’m an international student.  Whenever she’d say a word I didn’t know, I’d keep staring at her because I wouldn’t know what to write down, and then she’d define the word.  I was shocked.  She really wanted to make sure that everyone in the class understood!  I feel really sad for this professor because she’s allergic to chalk, so she can’t ever erase the board!


Outside of my classes: 

I volunteer at Hôpital Necker- Enfants Malade (a children’s hospital)  and take dance lessons at L’école de Danse de Paris (my first one is tomorrow) … also my schedule couldn’t show all my classes and the evening due to my screen size, so you can’t see it on my schedule, but I assure you it’s there !

I also scheduled two blocks on time on Wednesday to make sure I set aside time to do MCAT verbal sections and watch the film for my film class!

Also, my classes each have a lot of reading.  I’m not used to having reading in my classes (I’ve only ever taken science classes, writing classes, or french classes at Cornell).  I’ve read more in the past week than I’ve probably read in some of my semesters (pathetic I know).  I’m hoping once I get over the first few weeks my reading speed in French will pick up and I won’t have to rely on word reference as much.  Also, most of my classes are 3 hour blocks.  That is a long time to sit still and pay attention.  I’m working up my endurance.  As of right now I’m pretty useless the last 20 minutes of class 😛


From my  schedule you can also see that I went to the Loire Valley this past weekend and I’m going to Amiens on Friday!  I will create a separate post on the Loire Valley hopefully tonight or tomorrow… I have lots of photos to upload!!



Le Bien et le mal

I always prefer bad news first.

  • I got locked out of my apartment (when my host father came back from Belgium, there was a misunderstanding with keys between him and his ex-wife).
  • An ATM ate my only debit card…. waiting for the next one to come and being super frugal in the mean time
  • Had to read 80 pages of philosophy in French last night (that’s the most I’ve read in one sitting in French! I’m not a big reader unfortunately)
  • I finally tried crème caramel…. I realize now why it was a good idea to never try it
  • I had to drop the philosophy class (after I’d read all night) because it was an unrealistic course
  • I got made fun of by my host family for eating cheese the inappropriate way and not having proper cheese knowledge (by french standards)
Good news
  • I finally did my goal of giving a French person directions in French today
  • I got offered a volunteer position at Hôpital Necker-Enfants Malades on Monday!
  • After extensive searching, I found a dance coach (first one on the list)!!  She agreed to let me take my first class on for free and then I can decide if I want to continue (and if I can understand) She also placed me (based on my experience) in the highest level standard class she offers!
  • I went for my first day at the hospital on Tuesday: I finally get to smile and play with children (because smiling at a child on the streets could be seen as a bad/creepy thing)
  • I bought peanut butter!!! After craving it for multiple days I caved and splurged on it.
  • I loved my sociology of french culture class!! It focuses on comparing culture from the French Revolution to modern day through means such as art, history, traditions, etc.
  • I bought green jeans! Colored denim is super popular in Paris and I wanted dark green jeans like my dance dress and I found them!
  • I got quizzed today on my cheese skills and the host family was impressed that I had remembered!
  • I witnessed live music on a métro!


Here are some photos from the espace plein ciel where I work in the Hospital.  There are lots of different rooms with different themes: Cooking room, game room, music room, makeup room, etc.  I photographed a few:

It is an area of culture for the children to relax, have fun, and forget about being sick.  I spent my first day doing some sanitization of toys, then I made crêpes with a 10 year old girl and we talked about how much she loved her mom and wanted to make cute little tiny crêpes to take back to her mom.  I felt pain in my heart when she asked if I was sick, and if I got to go back to my place that night (as opposed to staying in the hospital).  Later I spent time chatting with some teenage girls.  It turns out one of them is auditioning for a singing troupe (if she gets out of the hospital in time) and the three of us sang American songs together! I also escort the children to and from the culture center and their rooms. I sincerely enjoyed my time at the hospital and I look forward to continuing!!

Un peu de tourisme

On Friday morning, EDUCO took us out to Le Train Bleu at Gare du Lyon.  The restaurant was immaculately elegant!  I’ve posted some photos.  The breakfast was french style so we got café au lait and orange juice with some pastries and a half a baguette with personal butter and raspberry jam (raspberries are SUPER popular here).  The food was delicious!! I’ve included some pictures in the gallery below, click on the photos to see them larger!!

Afterwards we had some meetings with EDUCO.  There was a woman who spoke to us about what it took to go from knowing French to bilingualism.  I found it super interesting, and she pointed out some great things for us to work on (for example: watch the gestures of other people and try to imitate them).

After that, we decided it was time to be obnoxious tourists! We went to the Louvre to see Mona Lisa.  We have Louvre cards so we can cut the lines and get in at any time! Unfortunately it was pouring rain so the museum was pretty popular as the other Parisien sights weren’t as attractive in the rain.  Much like the other tourists, we rushed straight to Mona Lisa and there are actually little black and white signs with a photocopy of Mona Lisa with arrows, that make it super easy for the tourists to go see the Mona Lisa.  I find it really sad how so many people rush by such great works of art to simply see the famous ones.  I’m glad to have a Louvre pass so I can come back multiple times and not have to do it all in one day! The Mona Lisa isn’t super large, and it’s behind many many many layers of glass.

After dinner the same night I went out with some friends for dessert.  We ended up on Rue de la Harpe near St. Michel.  We stopped at a lovely crêpe place.  I had a Crêpe de la Harpe which was a butter and sugar crêpe that was then topped with a large scoop of chocolate ice cream, a large scoop of raspberry sorbet (I told ya raspberry was popular), hazelnuts, a chopped up banana, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and powdered sugar!! This has to be my favorite crêpe yet!  After the crêpe place we went to a cute chocolate store on the same rue and I tried my first macaron ever! Side note: Macaron and Macaroon are two very different things!

On Saturday I went to the only bagel place in all of Paris (there could be another, but after google, this is the only one I found).  It’s called Bagels and Brownies.  I had a New Orleans on a cereal bagel.  So it consisted of cream cheese, avocado, tomato, and cucumber on a bagel with sesame and poppy seeds.  I also tried McDonalds (it’s nicknamed Mac-Dough here).  I ordered an m&m McFlurry.  Things I wasn’t warned about:  the only m&ms here are peanut style because there is a competing company called Skittles (irony)  which is color coated chocolate.  However, peanut m&m’s are too big to put on a McFlurry so they grind them up, and put the dust on top of the flurry. Oh, and here you have to “flurr them yourself” so I was thoroughly disappointed.  If anyone ever craves McD’s in Europe, try Quick instead, it’s a european burger joint with actual milk shakes/flurries/non-vegetarian stuffs.

That night, I went to a fabulous light show at La Défense! The place was packed, coming off the métro we had to squeeze our way into the crowd because it was backed up all the way to the métro exit.  We got there just in time for the show.  Without a doubt this is the best light exhibit I’ve ever seen!! There were fireworks portions and light portions.  Afterwards we went to the Eiffel Tower which has it’s own light show on the hour.




Oh, I also got my ballot yesterday in the mail! So I can vote for California while abroad.  Now all I have to do is fill it out and send it back 🙂

Première Semaine

My first week as an official student side-by-side with real true blood French people!

I went to 6 different classes (err actually 5) this week from two different branches of University of Paris:  Paris 7-Diderot and Paris 1-Panthéon-Sorbonne.

On Tuesday I went to two different Linguistics courses at Paris 7.  Why Linguistics? Well I know absolutely nothing about the subject, it fulfilled one of the distribution requirements to graduate (KCM = Knowledge, Cognition,and Moral reasoning)  as well as worked as an elective course for my French major.  Cool. So the first class was a sociolinguistics class.  While waiting as the time passed, I chatted with some of the other students outside the classroom.  Quickly, I come to find out that this class has more international students than parisiens signed up.  I was not happy.  I also leaned that the male and female stick figures outside the bathrooms are “just suggestions” that no one follows them and you can use whatever restroom is closest, or in many cases they aren’t marked and they’re for the whole world.  Well 3pm come and goes, no sign of professor and there’s another class in our classroom that didn’t leave.  Ten more minutes, nothing changed; but strangely, none of the french students are phased by this.  Personally I’m bothered, I came to learn and there’s no professor and no empty room.  Another ten minutes, then the professor shows up, sees there’s a class in our classroom, and runs off.  Another ten minutes, professor comes back and leads us to another classroom. Another ten minutes we’re finally settled.  Another ten minutes he took role.  Another ten minutes, he questions each of the students who weren’t on the role sheet (and that is ALL of the international students, talk about stressful!).  Now this class is only 2 hours long.  Halfway done and I’ve learned nothing about linguistics. The professor then spends the next hour explaining the difference between “Langue” and “Language.”  Unfortunately these two don’t translate perfectly back to English, but the first one means tongue/language  and the second means language.  Within linguistics the second one is more of an aptitude in which humans can express themselves with others and the first is a sufficient one way to give information that can be enriched with time.  It was tolerable, but I wasn’t in love with the class.  The professor was an older man who spoke very very slowly without much excitement.  I was happy when that mess of a class was over.

The next class was also a linguistics course, in the same building, and it started the same time the first one ended.  I ran across the building and got to the next room and the teacher wasn’t even there.  I also noticed that many of the students from the first class came to the second class as well.  Now the name of the second class was Langues et language and I was worried it would be the same definitions all over again.  Well about ten minutes late strolls in the same professor as the first lecture.  I had a slight desire to leave, but it would be incredibly impolite by french standards, so I suffered through the two hour lecture… Unfortunately he did not define Langue  and  Language  again, I actually would have preferred that to the 2 hour history lecture on Platon and Aristote… It was miserable, and drew on forever.  By the end, almost every student was drawing pictures in their notebooks.

On Wednesday I went to a philosophy class at Paris 1.  Now Paris 1 is a more run-down schools.  I don’t think the walls have been cleaned in about 20 years, and they sure haven’t been painted in at least 40.  There are 3 different types of elevators, and each type of elevator only goes to a certain few floors.  I got to the room early with plenty of time to spare.  Now the class I picked is in Licence 2 ; it is the only course I’m attempting that is at level two, whereas all the other classes are at level one.  In France, undergrad is called Licence  and there are three years of it.  This class specifically is called epistémologie .  I took an epistemology course entitled Theory of Knowledge in high school so I was looking forward to taking it here.  This course also would fulfill the KCM requirement and since I sure wasn’t taking linguistics I thought it’d be a great alternative.  Also, my advisor approved this class for the French major.  So I go in the class and I see it’s huge, in fact there were 70 students in it. The teacher walks in and I think she’s a student! She’s in her late 20s, wearing an adorable dress with tights and cute little ankle booties with blonde hair.  She tells us that this class is going to specialize in the field of science so it will be a philosophy of science course.  I really enjoyed the lecture.  I am worried that this class will be difficult, it has in class presentations, lots of papers to write, and in class essays (that means no spell check / dictionary for me which is very difficult in a foreign language).  I found the information incredibly interesting and pertained to my interests; however, I’m worried it may be too difficult.  The reading list includes Kant , an author that I struggled to understand in English in 12th grade because his material was so dense and theoretical.  Plus it includes about 100 pages of reading a week, which is a lot for a foreign language.  Although, if there was a subject I’d be willing to put the extra time into, it may well be this class because a heavy emphasis is on the philosophy of medicine.  Also, this lecture is 3 hours straight.  My attention span is not that long!  Luckily there is a 10 minute pause.  98% of the students left the room during the pause and went outside to smoke, when they came back I choked up it was so smelly.  The other 2% went to get coffee from the espresso machine (yes instead of soda machines they vend espresso). Oh, and I was the only international student in this class. And, while Paris 1 was kinda worn down on the inside, the skyline views of Paris from the 13th floor were amazing!

That night I tried a new food!  My host family didn’t know the name in English or French and I couldn’t understand the name in Chinese.  It was similar to lychee, but different. I actually found an article on it, and the fruit is called Longan. At first bite it tasted like sweet and fruity white wine, and as I ate more it became more addicting!  You have to stick your nail in the shell and then pick away little pieces of the shell, so you have to work to get your food!  I also tried the south-east asian style of eggplant, it was a little more spicy than american style eggplant.

Today is Thursday and I went to three different classes today (although two of them actually are part of the same course, I just had to go to it twice). So my first class was at Paris 7 and it was called Psychanalyse 1: Naissance de la psychanalyse  Now I imagine even the non-French speakers can understand this one.  Think of Renaissance… rebirth…. so the birth of psychoanalysis.  This class was in a big amphithéâtre and much like the other Paris 7 classes, the prof was 20 minutes late.  No apology or anything, they show up when they want.  This professor was a man who mumbled into a microphone on a not-so-good speaker system.  One of the first things the professor mentioned was the important years of Freud.  Now if you’re not familiar with numbers in French let me explain:  when he said a number like 1899 the literal translation would be  ten-eight hundred four-twenties ten-nine.  If someone started shouting dates like that in English to me I would get confused quickly, so in French, I had no hope.  Then he was spelling the names of some of the authors of the books we need to read and well… let’s just say my alphabet is pretty bad too.  I must have been absent when we learned the French alphabet in French 1.  Some of the letters are exactly like English, no problem there, but the others, they are such minuscule sounds that I can’t really tell apart and sort of all sound the same.  I always die inside when someone asks me to spell my name (or for my phone number) in French.  So I didn’t get those down either.  I found the material very interesting in this class.  He claimed that psychoanalysis was not born, discovered, or invented, but rather it was created. This class was only a 1.5 hour class and it started 20 minutes late and ended 20 minutes late, so not much happened.

This class has both a lecture and a discussion section.  I schedule the lecture and discussion section on the same day thinking it would be convenient.  You know, go to lecture, take an hour lunch break, go to discussion.  Sounds like a nice, easy, relaxing day right…. Until I find out the discussion is in an annex of Paris 7 all the way on the other side of Paris and I have to do multiple métro changes to get there.  Well there went my lovely lunch plans.  I ran to the métro, hopped on and ate a granola bar.  I made it to the arrondissement  with 20 minutes to spare, now all I had to do was find the building.  As soon as I get above ground I realize that this might not be the best neighborhood.  Nonetheless I’m in a hurry and gotta get where I’m going.  I ended up walking through a park full of homeless people sleeping, and on the sidewalk next to (what I think was) a Libian restaurant.   Eventually, I got to the Psychology Masters Building.  I get in my class safely and it’s a lovely discussion section.  The texts are very interesting and super comprehensible.  I even had wifi and could use my phone to translate the two words I didn’t understand in the article. I really enjoyed this part of the psychology class, I could understand a lot more than I could in the lecture.   Again, I was the only international student in this class.

But wait, my day is not over, I had an evening class at Paris 1 at 5pm.  I get back on the métro and head back to the arrondissement I started in this morning at Paris 7.  This last class is entitled: Introduction to History of Subsaharan Africa in the 19th century.  Pretty specific … but not really.  Africa is a HUGE continent, so this is actually just an introductory course.  The professor was a very kind woman.  She was super organized, the first professor to give us a syllabus, organized  reading list, etc.  I also have one American friend in this class.  It’s also the smallest class with about 20 students.  Without a doubt this is my favorite class!!  There are some African words that I don’t have in my French vocabulary, but to be honest I don’t have them in my English vocabulary either.  Anyway, I loved this class, and the homework is super minimal compared to all the others.  I am so excited for this class, I came home and started doing homework instantly and I already have time on Monday blocked off so I can go visit the African History Library and get ahead! Oh, and I’d like to mention that this class fulfills not one, not two, but THREE graduation requirements:  historical analysis distribution requirement, geographical breadth requirement, and francophone studies (major requirement).  This is the one class I am 100% set on taking.

I am also going to test out 2 EDUCO courses which start next week.  They are Paris-Cinéma and  Historical Sociology of France.  Then, I’ll have to decide 4 classes out of these 5 (I’ve already eliminated the two linguistics as well as the biochemistry course which was too physical chemistry oriented to fulfill my needs).

I also have 2 french facts to share

1. Cobblestones and high heels don’t mix

2. There isn’t a direct translation for the word awkward in French.  I guess the French are never awkward.

My schedule for next week; choose 4 of 5 classes to keep

Here’s my schedule for next week. I will have to choose my 4 favorite classes after next week and then those will be my classes for the semester!

Megan and I on our First Day of class!

Megan and I on our first day of Class!


The elevator at my apartment only has floor options of 0,2, or 3.  The ground floor here is 0. This really stinks, when you go to the 6th floor on a building, that means you climb 6 flights of stairs!! No one lives on the first floor so you can’t even stop there.  I live on the 3rd floor.

I got a Smoothie today and I found it funny that on the bottom of the label it has a pronunciation guide and tells French people to pronunce it “Smoussi”


La Rentrée

I thought I’d write a post about some of the different school-related stuff here in France as I prepare for classes this week.  As I mentioned before I’m taking classes at multiple locations in multiple schools.  This week is the shopping period. I’m going to visit courses in Paris 7 (Diderot) and Paris 1 (Panthéon-Sorbonne) this week and then EDUCO courses start next week. As I said before I had to go all around Paris to find secretaries and ask for hours of classes.  I lucked out because quite a few of them posted the hours outside the secretary office so I could go see. Here’s an example:

I’m going to the class “la langue comme fait social” today, it’s a sociolinguistics class.

So I think I’ll start with the university restaurants.  As I said before it’s 3euro10 for a complete meal. These  are all over Paris! I’ve eaten at quite a few different ones and it’s all the same idea.  You get a total of 6 points.

so you can see here how many points each thing is worth.  So typically someone gets a big plate, a little plate, and a dessert, but lots of other combinations are possible.  Bread and water are always free! Here are two examples of what I’ve done.

So here, I got a pizza for my main plate (4 pts), a watermelon slice for my small plate (1 pt), and a vanilla pudding for my dessert (1 pt).

Now here was a more ab-normal style of eating, but I’ve done it a few times.  The salad is worth one point, the cheese is worth one point, the apple is worth one point, the yogurt is worth one point, and the dessert was from the gourmet dessert section so it worth 2 points (and oh boy it was delicious).  Now a typical french person would think I’m crazy because for them cheese is dessert, fruit is dessert, yogurt is dessert, and dessert is dessert… nonetheless by american standards this is still relatively healthy.

Now these last few weeks have been La Rentrée which is when students return to school. It’s a cultural thing here, lots of stores have sales and there are school supply stores everywhere called Gibert Jeune.  Everyone stocks up on things for La Rentrée and all the ads in the métro are talking about what people need for La Rentrée.

The elementary school kids started before the others.  I remember walking on my way to orientation and seeing parents holding hands with little kids dressed up in trousers and button up shirts.  They start dressing nicely at a young age! Plus, the city hires crossing guards for all the streets near elementary schools.

As I mentioned in my last post, my host sister had her birthday party last weekend.  It turns out the junior highs are based on where you live.  So all her friends from school lived in walking distance from her, how cool is that?? However French students have to choose their specialty at 15/16 when they start the equivalent of 10th grade or high school. I think this is crazy, how can a 15 year old know what they want to do? They are still dreaming about being a star athlete or a great actress (don’t get me wrong for some people this happens, but for the majority fame is not attainable).  Nonetheless here’s an adorable photo of a few girls rubbing balloons on the wall to get them to stick!

Another thing about France, they make us get TONS of Cards. Here is a photo of my friend Megan and all her new cards since arriving in Paris.

So we have our EDUCO ID, our Paris VII ID, our card to eat at Student Restaurants, our Louvre Cards (to get in free anytime), and she has a métro pass (I opted to walk most places so I didn’t buy one).  The french really like their cards!

So I also wanted to show the coolest Folders ever! They have them here in France 🙂 Also French paper is longer than American paper, so I needed something to fit the longer paper.

So here is the folder all closed up and the top of it.  I stuck my name tag from Orientation on it as well.

here is the back side, it has little straps to make sure it’s all closed

here is the folder from the top view, when I undo the straps and flip the top cover up.  You can see there are other flaps that hold everything inside, and lots can fit inside, I have multiple papers and a book in this folder.

and here it is with all the flaps down, so you can get at anything you want inside! They hold an ton and I find them super cool! I ended up getting one of these folders for each of my classes.  They are about $1 each so it’s super affordable.

I FOUND AMERICAN STYLE LINED PAPER!!! I was thrilled. It took me about an hour at different Gibert Jeune’s but I found it! I was so happy. I ended up having a sales man help me, and I asked for it , and when he found it my whole face lit up with happiness and he could tell he made my day! They were twice expensive as French-style paper but I didn’t care! Whew, if you don’t understand why I’m so excited, go look at my earlier post where I complain about the mind-numbing French-style lined paper! So my current organization plan is to take notes on these sheets of paper and put the notes into the folder for that class 🙂

These are my updates about La Rentrée (which means The Return, it sounds almost like a movie title in English).   As always, if you click on the photos they get bigger 🙂