! So far we have read a short story by Guy de Maupassant called "La Peur" ("The Fear") and an excerpt from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
. Then comes Civilisation du Sud (Civilization of the South), which sounds like it would be really interesting, given the fact that I'm in the south of France, but it's been a little boring thus far. Maybe because we are sitting for 2.5 hours straight listening to the professor talk about the Romans building roads. Whew! Tuesday's over, and Wednesday's a respite from classes. Then on Thursday morning I have Histoire de la Langue Française ("History of the French Language"), which is very similar to the Linguistics class I took for English last year. Thursday afternoon brings The Gothic Novel, in which we are reading Frankenstein
(the first time for me, unbelievable as that seems). I really like the professor--the same one who teaches the American Essay, a visiting professor from the University of Iowa. But some of the French students in that class are really rude. They chitchat while the professor is talking, and when he speaks the one or two French words that he knows, I can hear snickering about his pronunciation. Not cool! We don't make fun of the way they speak English! But I have met a really sweet French girl in that class, and we have hung out a couple of times. On Fridays I have my "big mama" classes, so to speak: the CM and TD (complicated French educational mumbo jumbo) for Littératures Comparées (Comparative Literature). It's all about the splash that Ulysses made in the literary world, so we're reading works from British (Virginia Woolf), French (Valéry Larbaud), and German (Arthur Schnitzler)--all in French
. For the TD I have to write a 6-12 page paper in French. Ahhhh! Plus the whole CM/TD thing really confuses me. The classes are very differently organized. I asked the professor which novel I should start with, and she said it didn't really matter. OK...
On Friday I also went to a cinema class with an American friend (just for fun), and then she had some people over to her apartment, so I got to meet some other Americans as well as some French guys. A little out of my comfort zone, but hey! that's what I'm here for. Then yesterday I went to an open-air market with a Greek girl, and then we went to the art museum, the Musée Fabre. But it was too big to do in one day, so we didn't finish the whole collection. Luckily, the tickets were free for students, so we can go back any day and see the rest of the works. Today I walked around the Jardin des Plantes with another American friend, and then a group of us went to a little theater and saw Phèdre
, which was hard to follow since it's a 17th-century French play based on Greek mythology, but I think I understand about 40-50% of the language (plus we had a synopsis, which was very helpful). It was a little overdramatic and cheesy but a good experience nonetheless (and only 5€! with student ID). I love being a student in this town.
I also met my host mother's husband and son for the first time this weekend. Her husband works in a different city, so he doesn't live at home, and her son is grown (and engaged) and also lives in a different city. Her husband is very opinionated (a.k.a., very French), so he likes to discuss. He's very passionate about environmental issues (like me!), but when I told him that I hail from Atlanta, the land of Coca-Cola, he went on a rampage about the evil wastefulness and uselessness of Coke. :( Haha! The French sure do like to yank your chain.
Not that much to report here. It was the second week of classes, and while it is nice that I don't have classes on Mondays and Wednesdays, my Tuesdays are pretty rough with a 1.5-hour class followed by two 2.5-hour classes...all starting at 8:15 AM. For my American Essay class, we read "Stickeen," an essay by early 20th-century naturalist John Muir. You would think that I would enjoy an essay about a cute, frisky little dog, but it was kind of boring. Maybe I can take only so much description about icebergs in Alaska. Next I have Littérature Fantastique aux 19e et 20e Siècles (Fantastical French Literature of the 19th and 20th Centuries). My professor is really cool, strutting in with his motorcycle helmet on. It's an "RI class," which means that the class is made up of just Americans but taught entirely in French. So the professor keep asking us if we understand this or that word...but the funny thing is that he always asks the question about words that are the same in French and English