Now that the semester is winding down, I’ve been really busy with pesky little details like exams. Happily, I suppose, the weather has been cold, gray and drizzly the past week so I don’t mind so much having to stay inside to study. (I HATE staying inside when the sun is shining!)
I’ll say a few words here about the exams. They are brutal. I hope my KSU professors don’t get any ideas from this and think maybe they’ve been too easy on us, but I never had such hard exams and these are in classes that aren’t really all that difficult. I’m taking FLE classes (for non-native speakers) in language, culture and civilization. I completely understand the material, and the classes – well two of them, anyway – are interesting. But a typical exam is like this:
Six pages, which are all short answer and must be answered in full sentences/paragraphs – in French, of course – about the history of France, its language and its cultural identity, followed by a two page analytical reading in which we must write an essay analyzing a text. (And no, we can’t use a French/English dictionary.)
Sample question: “On dit souvent que le français est “la plus germanique des langues latines”. Pourquoi?
We only have half the class period for the exam and our professor helpfully reminds us that, “il reste vingt minutes…il reste quinze minutes…il reste dix…cinq, quatre, trois… minutes.”
I have this professor for two of my classes and except for his punishing exams, I enjoy the classes and have learned a lot. When we took our exam yesterday, he actually complained about how long it took him to print, collate and staple the eight pages (remember, this is a mid-20th century facility!) We weren’t very sympathetic to his plight, I’m afraid.
I mentioned in my last post that I haven’t had many chances to have conversations in French, but there was one exception. I was invited to an event at a local evangelical church in which a pastor from Switzerland gave a presentation about the country and its history and culture. This was followed by a fondue dinner. No one spoke much English but I managed to get along well enough… je me suis assez bien débrouillée en français ce soir là.
Another cultural dinner was the “Thanksgiving” dinner hosted by the American ISEP students. The five of us contributed to the dinner and at least 40-50 Erasmus students of all different nationalities attended. La directrice of the student residence almost lost her mind when she saw how many of us were crowded into the salle à manger. She didn’t quite understand what all the brouhaha was all about.