I have now finished my introductory French courses and have moved on to the full-blown real-life university courses here in Lyon. At UCLA, choosing your classes happens long before you ever get into them (in most cases – you can always drop and add), but here the course system works differently.  French students all have a structured plan that tells them all the classes they have to take every semester according to their major, and French students really don’t have a lot of choice when it comes to picking classes, especially not between different departments. Because our American program doesn’t work that way, we get to spend a few weeks browsing around for different options, and we get to sample courses from more than one department. By the beginning of October, we are supposed to have nailed down our semester’s schedule. Right now, I have picked about six or seven classes that I’ve been going to to help me make a decision.

Today, I had class from ten in the morning until six in the evening with fifteen minute breaks every two hours. It was very intense – I haven’t had that much class time in a single day since high school (or maybe ever), but the good news is that I’ll only keep half of the classes I went to today, so my schedule won’t be too hectic or long.

The classes I’ve been to so far all seem very interesting. I went to a debate class this morning – but I don’t think my French is good enough yet to keep up with the French students in the class even though I would love to stick with it. You have to be able to talk pretty fast during an argument. I also went to a couple of art history courses – one about photography and one on modernist paintings. Both of those seemed pretty cool – the only sort of art history class I’ve taken at UCLA was history of electronic dance music, and we learned about funk and dubstep, not about paintings and photographs. Yesterday, I went to a geography of landscapes class because I had a friend who was interested in checking it out. I’ve never taken a geography class before, but I’ve always been curious. When we got to the class, we realized that our program didn’t provide us with the most up-to-date class schedules and titles because instead of a landscape geography class about France, it was a geography of Anglophone landscapes class taught in English. Because I’m here to practice my French, I don’t think it’s a good idea to take the class even though it was a lot of fun to attend. I wish it was taught in French!

I have more classes to look at tomorrow (architecture and anthropology), and then I start whittling down my schedule next week. I’m excited to do this, so I can really get into the swing of things over here. I guess this is just kind of like my French version of zero week!