Thursday, 9 February 2012

french class

This semester at Sciences Po I'm taking 2 history courses, an urban sociology lecture, and an international relations seminar. The course style is very different than at home - students give exposés in class almost every day, there are generally specific readings for each session, and class time is often more of a discussion format than a formal lecture (except for the cours magistraux which are more like the traditional format at home - professor stands at front and lectures, students take notes and write essays). Of course this is a gross generalization, and I'm sure my classes are not entirely representative, but it is interesting to see the major differences according to my own experience. I'm also taking several sports and arts courses (pétanque! french boxing! photography!) that have me pretty excited. Of course, I am also taking a French course, which is really becoming the most important as I try to communicate in my daily life. I had to laugh at this Mark Twain quote, as I can definitely relate (no offence intended, of course)!

In Paris they just simply opened their eyes and stared when we spoke to them in French! We never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language.
The Innocents Abroad

The other day in French class we were discussing activities we do in our spare time, and the teacher was calling on each of us to propose some suggestions. One poor fellow mistakenly said 'coucher', which can be a euphemism for sleeping with someone, instead of 'dormir', to sleep. After looking aghast for only a moment the teacher pushed on, inquiring 'Vraiment? Avec qui?' (really? with who?). Poor guy had no idea what she was talking about, while those of us who knew the song "Lady Marmalade" from our youth were already snickering. I'm afraid I couldn't help myself from laughing at his expense. The incident reminded me of one of my favourite David Sedaris stories, about similar misadventures in French class. Read it here, and enjoy. Makes me laugh every time :)

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