Friday, 9 September 2011

Things I have learnt in France this week:

  1. there is absolutely no sense of urgency in this country.
  2. getting a visa for Peru is probably easier than trying to enroll at a French university
  3. In regards to university, not even the French know what's going on
  4. doing all your paperwork for the bank does not necessarily mean that they have sent off the application for your bank card
  5. French men (or the majority of them), think they are God's gift to women
  6. the French love paperwork
  7. everything and anything needs a passport photo of you
  8. everyone sticks religiously to their lunch break, and even if you've been queueing for ages you get turned away the minute it's lunch.

So I have had a very interesting week.  I tried to enroll on Tuesday, the first part was easy.  Handing over my forms from Cardiff and applying for my student card was easy.  Alas I do not own a student card yet because it takes about a week to actually make them.  So at the moment I am student cardless.  Not easy when I want to apply for a culture pass (discounts at the theatre, opera, cinema etc).  Then on Tuesday we attempted to enroll in our courses.  Turns out all the subjects we had written on our learning agreements and that we assumed we were going to be studying, didn't actually exist and that they were last years modules because the university website never gets updated.  The international office says it has nothing to do with enrollment, as does the ERASMUS office so essentially we were left up to our own devices.  It depends on who you ask, one person says sign up online, the other to do to the lessons, and the other person says to go to the home school and sign up with the secretary.  I was trying to enroll from 1:45 until about 4:30 in the afternoon.  It involves a lot of standing around in queues (which the French don't do very well), to then be told 'actually no, you don't sign up here'.

Through some miracle (and hanging around with the right people), I've managed to sign up to two very interesting literature modules (one studying Madam Bovary, and the other focusing on literature from the 1920's specifically Marcel Proust and Virginia Woolf).  I've also signed up for a translation class two times a week.  Tuesday made me just want to cry because even the French students aren't so sure how everything works, so how are we meant to know? We did have a meeting about 'how' to enroll but that was on Wednesday and uni started yesterday.  I can deal with a different type of organization, I obviously didn't expect it to be like Cardiff where everything is online and easy to understand, but this is just very frustrating because how are we meant to know what to do? The French employ the 'if you don't ask we won't tell you' mentality.  The time tables aren't even online or are all the old ones.  It's just very chaotic, and apparently this university is one of the worst administrative wise in the country.

Also at this point in time I do not own a bank card and won't be getting one until at least the 18th.  Went in on Tuesday (after showing up at the bank on monday before realizing it was shut), to 'pick up my card' and it turns out it hadn't been ordered yet.  So still waiting on that.

After Tuesday I'm just trying to laugh about it, there's nothing you can do other than that.  The lack or urgency in this country is something to get used to and I'm just trying to be a little bit more relaxed about it, but you can see my frustrations when it's time for classes to start and yet no one has any idea how to sign up for them?

As for the French men, well they all largely think that they are so funny and a blessing to us women.  Naturally they hear/can see we're British (I know I don't count but I get included in the grand scheme of things), and I was at the tram stop with a friend chatting and some French lads were saying in French 'ah you're english, how do you say what is your name in english? how do you say do you want to come back to mine in english?'.  Basically they think they're hilarious and think the joke is on us when really it's the other way round.  I'm in no danger from the 'french charm' I can tell you that.

The upside of this week was our trip to the beach, so lovely to finally swim in the sea again and nap on the beach.  I've missed that.  The only thing I keep forgetting is that the French aren't quite as reserved as Germans or British people.  Lots of ladies topless.  Not sure if I'll get to that stage.

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