New beginnings = meeting new people. And meeting new people is exceptionally terrifying. Especially as you become increasingly more aware (and afraid) of those nasty, awkward silences. Then comes the moment when you are stuck in that awkward limbo: handshake or no handshake? And in that moment of hesitation, you realise you can’t even remember what they said their name was. Luckily however, meeting people in Paris was not as terrible as I had imagined…
What was pretty terrible though, was the realisation that our professeur really was passing round the microphone to all 80 Erasmus students in the lecture hall, and that we really did have to introduce ourselves to all of them in French, and that they weren’t going to just give up with this horrible “Tu viens d’où?” game by the time it got to our turn. Whilst it definitely felt like our worst nightmare at the time, I imagine there are going to be many more difficult hurdles to overcome.
We started the language course (SILC) on Monday. We weren’t enrolled after all, but there was a sign up sheet going around the lecture, so it wasn’t an issue! The only real issue was that those who had been enrolled in advance, were required to take another test (NOT the Erasmus OLT test), in order to determine their group level for the classes. So, we were all put into the lowest group. This was fine for the most part, except when the prof started to teach about the past tense and we felt like we were in year 8 French again…
Overall, these classes have definitely been worth it. It’s a great way to make friends, and you seriously do speak a lot of French. In short, it’s a good little warm-up for your lectures and seminars. Anybody going to Descartes should try and push for more and more information for the SILC well before you leave. If you can’t find the form, email, email and email again. Don’t expect a reply too quickly though.
ENROLLING/THE GENERAL BUREAUCRATIC MESS THAT IS FRANCE
Whilst I haven’t encountered any long queues yet, it is certainly true that the French love their mounds and mounds of forms, photocopies, and extra requirements.
Enrolment entails a long form, and at the end of it you don’t even get your student card! We have to wait for an email to go collect them. It’s at the law school in Malakoff- which is not where the SILC classes were. Again, quite disorganised, because the times for enrolment clashed with the times we had our classes, but overall not too bad.
Everything else to do with the process was laughable- French bureaucracy is seriously a joke. Law begins on Monday, which not only clashes with the SILC, but we also have no timetable, no idea when to go in, where to meet, and no clue whether there is a welcome lecture of any sort. The guidance given to us to register for our modules doesn’t work well at all. In fact, the core modules that Warwick requires us to take are apparently “full” according to the online system. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the module codes don’t match up to the module titles (although we were warned about this- but why not just post the newer codes?? Why are we still working with the old ones?!!), AND we have no personal account details to log in to a Start Warwick-esque page.
So basically, we’re lost. It’s just unnecessary pressure to add onto what was already a pretty hectic week. However, between the CAF funding forms still left to tackle (which I’ve heard is absolute hell), and working out the mystery that is the Law School, it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better next week either.
The only highlight amongst all of this chaos was that we got to meet loads of new people! Poor administration is a surprisingly good conversation starter…
An Erasmus association also organised lots of soirées this week, so we have been going out to events with them to meet people (more about that soon).
To sum up, this week has consisted of stress, nerves, and a lot of wine… (most evenings!) I’m still loving Paris, but I can’t wait to feel fully settled and get into the routine of daily life here.