Bienvenue Tout le Monde! >> Welcome Everyone!

I am SO excited, and do you know why? Because I am living in France for the ENTIRE year! I arrived here in Tulle, France on the 26th of August, and I will return sometime in June of 2011. I have three families that I will be living with, each for three or four months. I am attending a lycee or a high school here for my junior year classes. I hope that you will check this blog for updates on my life in France.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Workin' 9 to 5, Literally

School. (l’école in French) Can you define it? I thought I could before September 3rd. School to me was the building where you spent ninety-eight percent of your time. School is where you “learn,” have “fun,” and eat “lunch.” Then in the case of Metro, my school in St. Louis, school is where you work really, really hard. Well, needless to say, going to school in France has changed my outlook on school a little bit. Actually, my outlook has changed a lot.

I’m not going to say whether or not I like it. That’s not a good place to start. A good place to start would be the location. Lycée Edmond Perrier is in the center of the city, at the very top of the mountain. I would show a picture, but the building is so high up the mountain, it’s hard to get a good shot. This school is like nothing I have ever seen. It’s HUGE. There are multiple buildings and corridors. I have a class in room 1, and in room 407. It was built over a century ago, thus the architecture is a gorgeous Versailles style.

Since it is school, I have to take classes. I have about eleven classes. No, it is not a typo. I have about eleven classes, maybe even more. The average French child, is not a student, but a well-oiled machine. I have heard things about French education, but they were understatements. In the states, I had thirty hours of classes a week. Here, middle and high school students have up to forty hours. There is a very strict program. All students in high school take the same courses in their field. I am in the literature field. My schedule is designed around history and literature. There are other fields for trades, math, and science. The entire program is built for a major test called the Bac taken at the end of high school. This test is not like the ACT/SAT. A French student cannot go to any university or college without passing the Bac. Your higher education depends upon this test. Not teacher recommendations, or GPAs. Strictly the Bac. When do you really prepare for the back? 11th grade, my grade of course! Why not? So I have been thrown into intense Bac training with all of the other three hundred 11th graders at my school. My classes are as follows:
Civics and Sociology
Literature (A LOT)
Math Specialty
Informative Math
Group Studies-History and Language
Life and Earth Science
History and Geography
English :)
                                                             [I like that one]

This is a light course load. I was able to remove some classes from my schedule. Of course if students have forty hours of classes, the times for school have to be different as well. I start school at 8:00 am everyday, except for Thursday when I start at nine. Hallelujah! ---But, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I finish at 5:30 pm and 6:00 pm. Ahhhhh! ---But, on Wednesdays I finish at 10:00 am. Therefore, it’s give and take.

Yes the French work a lot, but they vacation a lot as well. (This when my classmates will want to sit down) In the states I had two weeks vacation for Christmas, and one week for spring break. Here, I have a total of 8 weeks vacation. I have four 2 week breaks. There are professional development days and holidays as well. There’s a smile on my face just writing this. I hope you can feel my joy through the blog. :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) [8 smiley faces]

Other topics that will infuriate my classmates: transportation and lunch. In the morning I have a ride to school, but some afternoons I have to take the bus. This would be a problem if the buses weren’t the chartered tour type buses. Yes, cushioned seats, air-conditioning, and heat. There are no yellow school buses! Then there is cantine or lunch. There is fresh bread, freshly made salad, steak, pasta, green beans, carrots, tilapia, ice cream, pears, peaches, and water on the table like a restaurant. ALL of it is edible, and ALL of it is FREE. I’m not sure if there is a school in the states with lunch like this, but if so, the tuition is too expensive. I eat just as well in school as at home.

Well that’s it for the description, on to the experience. The first day, was the most exciting and worst day of my life. It didn’t hit me at first, but when I arrived I realized that I was going to a new school. America, France, wherever, that is scary. To walk into an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people, with a semi-unfamiliar language is difficult. But, I made it through the day. And, I made it through the second, although I was late for two classes and was lost the entire day. Then I made it through the third and some of my classmates actually spoke to me. Then the fourth, when my classmates actually greeted me. Then the fifth when my classmates wanted to know more about me. Gradually, the social part of school gets better. I don’t eat lunch alone, I don’t study alone, and I have help with class and homework. I’m not alone, and that is a relief.

Then there is class. Some classes are better for me than others. I can understand math, because numbers don’t change. I can understand music, because Duke Ellington and Bach are famous everywhere. I can understand Literature because I love the subject. I can understand English because…well you know why. It’s when I get to history and geography that I have some difficulty. The vocabulary and geography of France is unfamiliar to me, and the teacher talks faster than a policy debater. (That is very, very, very, fast. Trust me) But I took my first geography test with confidence, so I must understand something.

School is not easy, which I am sure you know, but school is good. There is still pressure to pass, but the methodology here is different. The teachers don’t feel the need to check the homework; they just assume that we did it. Everyone listens to the teacher. He or she does not have to stop to tell the students to be quiet. There is a lot of class work and student-teacher interaction, rather than lectures all of the time. I feel willing to learn and willing to try to understand, because I know the quality of education being given. I love Metro, and I miss it. But if I had to take a year off away from it, I’m glad that I am spending that year at Edmond Perrier.

I know this post was long as well, but what I can I say, I like to write and inform. I have more to share, and I will soon. If you have questions, feel free to comment. As of yesterday, I have lived here for three weeks, and I am still excited for whatever is next!

1 comment:

  1. Olivia, I am so glad that you are able to tell us all about your time in France. I am especially glad that you are happy and having fun (to an extent anyway) and I can not wait to hear from you again. Stay well, and know that I love you, Deanna