Week 1

Hi guys! How are you today? I hope you’re all doing well. Today, you get to hear all about my first official week at UCA

But first, you might have noticed that the website address has changed. No, you’re not on the wrong blog. I finally got round to paying for a years’ subscription to a Personal Account on WordPress. This meant I could customise my domain name, so I simplified it down to an-introvert-abroad.com. And in other news, I hit 20 countries today. That is, people from 20 different countries around the world have seen at least one of my posts. Thank you to the people from Egypt that made it 20! And thank you to all of you around the world who read my posts. It’s great that I can share my experiences with so many people! Now, back to the main post.

Place de Jaude in Clermont-Ferrand, with the Église Saint-Pierre-des-Minimes.

So it all started off on Monday. I was up nice and early for a 9.15 lesson called Ecrits Universitaires. It had my language level on, and it was on my timetable, so I went to the Centre FLEURA to attend. However when I got there, I double checked the paper timetable on the wall. Despite being on my electronic timetable, it wasn’t actually for my group. It was for the C1 group, but I’m in the ERASMUS C1 group. I didn’t let this hiccup slow me down, so instead I took a seat to work out what I was actually supposed to go to.

It looked like Méthodologie de la recherche was at 1.15, so I hung around for a while until it was time. Once we were all sat down the teacher started discussing the lesson in French. This wasn’t a surprise for me, as I already knew it was a French-spoken lesson. However, I sensed something wasn’t right when she started talking about the homework we would have to do. Supposedly, I had to write a 5-page essay discussing the subject I’m ‘specialising in’ and then later in the semester talk about it in front of the class, but with different points than I had already written. I had no idea how to do this, because currently, I’m not actually specialising in anything. I’m only in my second year of university, and all the other members of the class introduced themselves as master’s degree students. According to the Wikipedia page for ‘Master’s Degree’ (don’t judge me), master’s students ‘are expected to possess advanced knowledge of a specialized body of theoretical and applied topics; high order skills in analysis, critical evaluation, or professional application; and the ability to solve complex problems and think rigorously and independently.‘ None of this applies to me, at least not where I am currently, so I really felt that I had to leave. But not knowing the French etiquette at university level, I wasn’t sure if you could just get up and leave like you can in my home university. And being the awkward person I am, I hate interrupting people, even when something is wrong, so I tend to wait until they’ve finished talking. So, just before the introductions got to me, I said to the teacher that I didn’t think the module was right for my level, so would it be a problem if I left? Luckily, she was understanding and let me leave, but I couldn’t help still feeling really awkward for having simply left a class.

Anyway, I deduced that the last two lessons of the day also weren’t meant for me, as they were lessons you could choose to do alongside your general French. Plus, they overlapped so I would have had to pick one. However, I had already chosen Civilisation: Societé depuis 1939 (Civilisation: French Society since 1939), which was running the next day. That evening, I had some help sorting out my timetable and filling in some gaps, plus lessons I had planned to take but couldn’t find. Apparently, the next morning, there was a lesson named Civilisation anglaise (English Civilisation), which was taught in English. Thinking I had set my alarm correctly and set my phone to charge, I went to sleep.

I was wrong. I had done neither. Waking up at 9.00 am, I panicked and rushed to get ready, which turned out to be pointless in the end. Apparently, the teacher never turned up, so I’m going to attend the next lesson instead. After this, I was due to start my Civilisation: societé depuis 1939 at 11.15. I set off at 10.45 to ensure I wasn’t going to be late, and so I could give myself time to find the correct room. Which is a good point to make, the rooms are a nightmare to find. There seems to be no set way to name each room. Some have different formulas to others, for example: CA_DANTE_MA is in the Paul Collomp building, in the room named after someone with ‘Dante’ in their name. But none of this is clear from looking at the room name. And some are simply named SALLE_105. ‘Salle’ is French for ‘room’ so this could be anywhere.

So eventually, I found my room (CA_SALLE_208_LM which turns out to be in the Centre des Langues et du Multimédia), after walking into a different one then the fire alarm sounding. This lesson was great. The teacher’s really engaging and understands that we’re not native speakers, and the content itself was quite interesting. After this, I was due immediately in the Gergovia building for Langue et Societé (Language and Society), but after sitting through 10 minutes of a man sat at the front, reading from a script with no enthusiasm, I decided I had had enough and simply left. I knew there was a translation lesson happening around that time with some fellow York St John students, so I told them I’d be coming along and went there instead. This was a much more engaging lesson. The teacher could speak both French and English, and again, she appreciated that we’re not fluent.

My last lesson of the day was called STAR, which stands for Studying the Auvergne as a Region. It’s an English-spoken module, and we learn about various topics within the region of Auvergne. For this lesson, it was sport. Usually I wouldn’t enjoy anything to do with sport, but the teacher made it interesting. We learnt about some athletes from Clermont-Ferrand, got to know each other, and we were informed of a trip happening this Tuesday. At around 4.30, the group is going to meet at the town’s stadium, called the Stade Marcel-Michelin, which is the home of the AS Montferrand rugby club, with the team ASM Clermont-Auvergne. ASM was founded in 1911 by Marcel Michelin, the then-manager of Michelin Tyres. Back then, they were called the ‘Association Sportive Michelin‘. This Tuesday, we’re going to do the ‘ASM experience’, which I believe is a tour of the stadium when it’s empty.

On Wednesday, I had my first general French lesson. To my surprise, it was the same teacher as Societé depuis 1939. I knew then that the lesson was going to be good. And it was! We watched the first episode of a French TV series called Paris etc., which follows the lives of 5 women in Paris during a time when everyone lives in constant fear of another terrorist attack. Once we watched through the episode, we were tasked with doing a 100 word summary of the episode (not a full plot-summary), and we then discussed each character. Overall, it was a brilliant lesson.

Thursday and Friday I was off, which seems weird. But then again, I probably have lessons that go there once everything is sorted out. I did finally receive my bank card yesterday, so it’s a relief to be able to eat again!

That leaves this post here for today! Once again, I’d like to thank you all for following my blog and reading my posts. I’ll see you all next time, and I hope you have a fantastic day or night, wherever you are. À bientôt !