First Class

I attended biochemistry at the university yesterday.   I have mixed feelings about it.  The professor was nice and the material was presented via powerpoint so with all the words written out I could understand (ex. protéine = protein).  The other issue with the class is that it’s not necessarily very broad.  There isn’t a class that covers all the bases of biochemistry that the courses in America do.  I kind of get the feeling that I’m going to have to take biochemistry in the spring semester at Cornell, so is it worth taking it now?  The other interesting fact was that they seemed to push for english immersion in this class.  In most french classes, everyone tries to avoid saying things that sound remotely english.  However, in this class they spoke about a “red shift” or “quenching”  instead of trying to find a french alternative.  The other issue I have with this class is that during the discussion sections (this doesn’t start until thursday), the prof will make students go up to the board and solve problems.  I’m pretty against this.  What if I don’t understand what she wants me to do (due to a language barrier), I could see problems arising.  I’m going to go to the discussion on Thursday before I make my decision on what classes I’ll take.  I’m considering not taking this because then I could make a schedule that is free on Fridays and Mondays, how cool would a 4 day weekend be??? Not to mention some of the fun excursions for my program take place on Mondays and Fridays… we will see.

I’m looking at courses in the following departments: sociologie, psychologie, biologie, histoire, philosophie, linguistique, et cinéma.  Most courses are only offered in afternoons, it’s weird!

I don’t have any responsibilities today and I’ve spent most of the time in my room figuring out schedules and sleeping.  I cooked lunch and I’m starting to question how much it’s worth cooking.  I can get a meal for 3 euro 10 at the university restaurants that will without doubt fill me up.  To cook a meal usually ends up costing at least 3 euro, plus all the time I spend cooking and doing dishes by hand (no dish washer), so I’m leaning more toward using the university restaurants instead of cooking in the future.

Some french mannerisms/dining tips:

  • hands should always be above the table when you eat
  • only children put napkins in their laps, not adults
  • restaurants are required by law to give you free water, but if you ask for water they can charge you and get bottled water, so what you want is “une carafe d’eau”
  • restaurants will assume you mean to tip (dumb american) a lot and take all your money , so ask for change every time, and then leave whatever tip (pourboire) you want afterwards, ask for “la monnaie”
  • in many cases, if french people hear an american accent, they will switch into english; however, most likely their english is worse than your french (unless you don’t know french of course)  so continue speaking french
  • waiting for the cooker of the food to eat first isn’t practiced here (at least not that i’ve seen)
  • dinner is almost always served AFTER 8pm.  I’ve seen people sit down for dinner at 11pm at restaurants and it’s completely normal
  • it is impossible to eat a meal in less than an hour. Cafés and restaurants are purposefully slow because it’s part of culture to enjoy your food and use it as a social outing
  • it is rare to see someone eating alone in public, people would rather not eat than eat alone
  • many offices close for 1.5-2 hours during lunch, because their food is so important to them

Here are some photos of rose-shaped ice cream/sorbet

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