French university is very, very different to England! The lectures at Descartes so far have all taught me the same lesson: that I can never complain about a UK lecture ever again. But that doesn’t mean that lectures in France are awful. All I mean to say is that it’s just an adjustment. So, what should you expect?
NO MORE “SPOON FEEDING”
When you leave sixth form and go to uni, all the students are given the harsh words of: “You aren’t going to be spoon-fed anymore, it’s all about independent study.” Whilst this is true to some extent, it is only since studying in France that I really feel like the spoon has been taken away from me.
Here, we aren’t given lecture handouts, so you have to be able to follow the lecturer really well. There have been some PowerPoints- nothing too amazing though. But I can’t complain, because something is better than nothing. However, there are some resources online, but of course, Descartes haven’t got around to giving us access to any of those yet…
LECTURES = A DICTATION EXERCISE
You walk in. The lecturer starts reading. You start typing. That’s it. It is incredibly tough, especially as we are all trying to type every word, and also trying to understand it all at the same time. It all comes down to how well you hear the French, and trying to be as accurate as you can. Of course it is difficult. But it isn’t something that I feel like I should or can complain about, because I have a feeling that it will get better. If you can’t type/understand every word, it doesn’t mean you aren’t capable, or that you’ll fail- it just means you need some time to adapt. It’s definitely a shock, but I’m hoping I adjust quickly…
In these first few lectures I’ve been using my phone to record, so I can fill in the (several) blanks in my lecture notes, in my own time. The recordings are quite poor (see/hear below!) so I have just purchased a dictaphone to see if that will fare any better.
Also, you do feel like your notes probably aren’t good enough. But I’ve heard that French students are more than happy to share their notes with you. My friends have managed to ask and succeed, but I am yet to muster up the courage to ask somebody myself…
DROIT CIVIL DES CONTRATS FOR 3 HOURS?!
No, you aren’t seeing things. And no, this isn’t something they’ve messed up on your timetable. Some lectures really are 3 hours long. This is terrible on the first day, but it’s only been a week and I already feel like it isn’t too big of a deal. It does get very difficult to focus in the last 45 minutes or so, but I suppose that’s understandable.
Also, we’ve been quite lucky in that our lecturers have been giving us a pause after every hour or so. But I’m not sure we will be this lucky throughout the whole year.
SPEEDY TYPING IS A MUST
If you haven’t quite got to grips with your QWERTY keyboard yet (which I really doubt is the case), then the summer before you move to France is the time to do it. I have never had to type so fast in my life. Ever.
The lecturers don’t tend to stop or slow down for you, but a few of the nicer ones try to repeat what they say, and some even put more emphasis on the certain important points.
COULD YOU HANDLE IT?
Here is a clip from one of our first “Droit administratif” lectures. This is probably a lecturer who we find a little bit more difficult to understand.
All in all, things are going well for the moment. TDs (seminars) start on the 21st, so I guess this week will consist of more running around, trying to find out our online log-ins, so that we can actually start our work.