I awoke the morning of January 4th, took a shower, and asked Brad for a T-shirt to borrow (remember, my luggage is still lost at this point). We were to meet at the program office at 9 to do academic planning stuff, so Brad and I started off in that direction. We had decided that since we still didn’t have groceries we would stop by McDo (as the French call it) to get a convenient and cheap breakfast. It turns out it is neither of those things. Sure, it is on Place de la Comedie, but it doesn’t open until 9 so we couldn’t go. Instead we found a small bakery and I bought a “pain au chocolat” for 1 Euro and Brad got a donut and some other sweet. We then walked, talked, and ate our way to the program office.
We spent the morning doing academic orientation. The program staff reminded us what our requirements were and what sort of classes were different from others. We talked about exam and grade format and other things I had already learned ahead of time. I am sure you all will learn about it in time, too. The important thing is that in the afternoon we all had our meetings to select our classes. My meeting was at 1:30 (during the second round of students) and it wasn’t quite noon yet. A pair of girls (names go here once I confirm them) were headed out to lunch, and since I had only had a sweet and fluffy biscuit for breakfast, they invited me along. We wandered about the center of town for a while and I learned that both of them were vegetarians (or at least had been). Eventually we settled on one of the dozens of “Creperies” and seated ourselves in the nearly empty restaurant. I ordered a “Formule 1″ for about 10 Euros which was a package that had a non-dessert crepe and choice of beverage, followed by a dessert crepe. I ordered a crepe with “emmental” which I knew was a cheese, but only learned now is basically Swiss. For dessert I had raspberry crepe. I forget what one of my companions ordered, but the other bought one of the more expensive “Formules” and it came with enough wine for what we thought was three glasses, and she shared it with us both. Her actual meal was a salmon salad. Sidenote: it was probably labeled as something like “Salade au saumon” which means salad with saumon rather than “Salade du saumon” which controversially claims you can prepare salmon as a salad. Many of you are familiar with my amusement of the lack of necessary and sufficient conditions for the definition of salad so I think this French language distinction adds even more intrigue into the mix, making it a veritable salad of salads. Anyways, I meant a lettuce salad with salmon on top when I said “salmon salad”.
Upon returning to the abroad office I was quickly summoned to choose my classes. This is not yet set in stone (the French “shop around” for their classes at the beginning of each semester) but here is what I’ve chosen.
FLE (Francais Langue Etrangere, the French equivalent of ESL) 4 || the highest level any of us were placed in
Pratique de l’ecrit || a writing course for FLE students.
Integrated Courses (with French students at U of M 3):
Philosophie generale || The course description referenced Descartes (duh), Nietzsche, Marx, Husserl, Ricoeur, Fichte, Heidegger, and Freud. In my general philosophy class we talked about none of these people, and in History of Modern Philosophy we only briefly talked about Nietzsche and Marx. Descartes will be a bit of review though.
Internship course || I signed up to do an internship saying my top choice was teaching English in a French elementary school and Corrine, the woman I was doing my course selection with said there were plenty of those. I am excited!
l’Histoire de l’Art || This is a course with only international students. We get to visit local museums and I wanted to make sure I had enough classes that were specifically dealing with French things so they would count towards that major (I think my philosophy courses will only count as 1 course since each covers non-French thinkers for about half the material). I really like visiting art museums and like art. I’ve just never been one to produce it. I think I’ll enjoy this class. A lot of my friends at the U are art history majors!
That’s it. 18 credits if nothing changes. After I chose these classes I got the phone call saying my luggage was at the hotel. Reference that post if need be. Once unpacking my clothes, I waited for Brad to return to the apartment because we decided we were going to buy our phones. We walked up through la Comedie and found a shop called “Phone House” where we bought flip phones with a two month unlimited calls and texts plan for 44 Euros. Then we were hungry and that McDonald’s was open and on the way back to our place. I bought a supersized Big Mac meal for around 7 Euros. Brad and I bumped into 2 girls from our program when we sat down to eat, and after an amusing conversation during which they convinced Brad to ask the local group of girls sitting near us how he should pick up chicks as an American student, we left McDo. One of the girls, Jacqueline, had some confusion with her host mom (many of the students here are on a homestay) and borrowed my phone a few times to call her. While loitering at la Comedie, we saw two more girls from our program and we made small talk next to the Christmas tree on the plaza. They were waiting for the tram and ended up missing it twice each. Eventually we all dispersed and Brad and I returned back to the apartment for a bit. However, before heading off to bed, Brad and I decided to check out an Irish pub we had heard of named Fitzpatrick’s. We each had a glass of beer, 4 Euros. Pretty sure for 4 Euros I could buy a dozen cans of PBR. France is expensive. I’m glad I bought groceries today rather than eating out some more.