Sunday, 26 September 2010

My first week of lectures

So here it is. After having finished the intensive language course, I am now an official student at Université Lumière Lyon 2. The welcome week and my first week of lectures were interesting in many ways. We had a meeting with Lyon 2's Erasmus coordinator on the 13th, after which Helen, Miranda, Alex, Charlotte and I went to the campus at Bron (Lyon 2's second campus, which is about 40 minutes on the tram and much bigger and more modern than the campus which is 10 minutes' walk from my flat) to look at timetables and choose courses. I opted for English to French translation, Ancient History, German "civilisation", German to French translation and French to German translation. I was most relieved to find that I have Mondays off, but unfortunately Wednesday was the most brutal day I have ever had in my life. I will never complain about starting at 9:00 in Birmingham ever again. I started lectures at 8, and because all my lectures are at Bron, I had to get up at 6a.m. in order to get the tram on time. Which brings me to another frustrating discovery: the French seem to believe that trams should be crammed full of people until there is not a single square inch of space left. I literally could not move. I then had 5 consecutive lectures - actually I lie, because I got the wrong room for one of them and only realised after half an hour of waiting outside said wrong room. I decided that there wouldn't be much point in going to the right room, so I went to the cafeteria and took a long lunch break. The cafeteria at Bron is very different to that at the campus on the Quais (so called because it is close to the bank of the river Rhône); the Quais cafeteria is quite casual, whereas the Bron cafeteria feels awfully like a school canteen. One of the irritating things about this cafeteria is that the cashiers do not have change, since the idea is to pay for meals using what is known as a carte CUMUL (Carte Universitaire Multiservices). I do have such a card, but putting money on it requires a French bank card, something which as yet I do not have. By the time my day finished at 5:45, I was infinitely glad to return to my flat, and even more glad that I only had one class on Thursday and Friday. On Wednesday evening I found myself in a bit of a rut, because I hadn't met anyone new since I finished my language course, had barely spoken any French, and was feeling like I didn't know what I was doing here. That was soon remedied by a very long Skype call to my friend Becky, who is currently in Strasbourg. I love her so much, she really made me feel better.

You may have noticed that I am continually discovering irritating things about France. The sad fact is that although lovely, France (and indeed the French) can be incredibly irritating. I haven't yet received my French bank card, so I had to go to the bank and ask them about it. They told me that I would have to collect it from my local post office because it is my first card. Well why didn't they tell me that in the first place! What is also irritating me is that I am expecting a parcel from home containing my new UK credit card and my British Airways membership card. After it not having arrived at reception, my mum had to phone the post office, and then I had to phone La Poste, who said that I could only get information about my parcel from England, but the post office at home said I could only get information from France. Helpful........not. So now it has been sent back to England and will hopefully arrive at my local post office soon.

As for the rest of the lectures, I have found them fairly good. Lectures here are 1 and 3/4 hours, and I have been struggling to concentrate for that long. Many of my translation classes have been interesting, but confusing at the same time. All I can say is thank goodness I have not discovered a French equivalent of Robert Evans. Those of you who study German will know exactly what I mean. It turns out that I am the only English person in my English-French translation class.  I wonder if this means that people will soon be coming to me with all sorts of questions. So far the only class I have found to be not very interesting is German civilisation, which seems to be a history class. You may think this would be interesting, but I have studied so much German history already, particularly in Landeskunde (I shudder at the memory of this) and Texts in Context. Speaking of, the first thing we have been learning about is Luther and the Reformation. When I discovered this I was struck by a wave of déjà vu, having studied Luther to death in Texts in Context. Yawn.

Anyway, I am probably boring you now, so I will leave you on this somewhat dreary Sunday in Lyon, and I hope that wherever you all are, you are having a more enjoyable time than me.

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