Quel cauchemar! That’s just a short summary of this awful, awful process. A huge sigh must be added here too. Alas, it is not a sigh of relief, but one of endless disdain, discontent and disappointment. Brace yourselves for another (well-deserved) rant, as well as a useful warning…

Keep in mind that I said this post would be a “warning”, and not one sharing tips to make your life easier. Because in fact, the French don’t want life to be easy. Therefore, there are really no tips whatsoever. Maybe except for: don’t try to stab yourself with your pen when you hear the word “clash” for the 100th time.

I can’t even give you the cliché “It’s okay, stay calm, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel”. I find it hard to believe that there was ever any light to begin with. Even now, as I write this, I am still completely unaware as to whether my modules are okay and whether my timetable really is clash-free.

This wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that our course lectures are happening right now. Essentially, all this confusion has led to us already missing several lectures. And we may even end up missing more, because if we discover another clash, we have to register for another- yet another module where we’ll be starting at lecture 2 or 3.

And for those thinking “ahhhh mais c’est pas grave” like most of the administrative staff have probably thought at some point this week, let us reaffirm one important thing: it most certainly is “grave”. Not speaking French fluently means that missing even 1 lecture puts us even more behind than we already are.


It got too much for all of us.

Not well.

You don’t get a timetable on your first day, you sort of have to make your own “provisional” timetable with all the modules you’d like to take, and then trial them in the first week, before changing your learning agreement. (Once you change it once, you can’t do it again!) This sounds pretty good, as you’d get a feel for which modules are interesting, and which lecturers you’ll understand the most.

So we all took the booklet, and sat there for literally the entire Monday, choosing modules, making sure we were taking the correct number of credits, seeing where they fit, when the lectures were etc. I can’t stress how complicated this was, because none of the codes match, the table had several printing errors, and there wasn’t really a clear enough distinction between the term 1 and term 2 stuff. Finally, we ended the day with the awful realisation that we’d missed a whole day of potentially great lectures.

Here is a friendly warning for future Law students at Descartes: the online system will make you want to poke your eyes out. Paris, you get a 10/10 for the effort in trying to become more electronic, but you score zero points for choosing what is probably the WORST SYSTEM IN THE WORLD.

You can’t look at more the one module more than once, so you can’t see potential clashes right from the start, you can’t “search” for your course so you have to click the arrows 100x before reaching “D” for “droit”. You may as well just go back to the paper based stuff, because we basically had to draw our own timetables to see how our year would go.


Bane of our lives

Then you see your hand-written (!) timetable in front of you, and then comes the hard part- having to force yourself to forget about droit pénal and anything else that sounded remotely interesting, because they clash with the core modules. Clash, clash, clash, clash, clash.

So really, you end up being almost forced to take modules you aren’t keen on, just in order to make up the credits.

Like I said earlier, I still don’t know if my timetable is okay. Knowing our luck so far, I’m sure I’ll have to change something again. Mais, on verra…



  1. Oh gosh! I know exactly how you feel. We are currently doing the same thing at my university in Lyon! ‘Tester weeks’, having to make our own timetables and missing lectures while we try to confirm our choices! They sure don’t make it easy! Best of luck to you though, I hope everything works out for you 🙂


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