Two days ago was the first day we visited the Universite Paul Valery. One thing I will say is the Minnesota has a much nicer campus. The buildings are not kept as well as universities in America and the desks are full of keyed-in initials and profanities. The next time I’m there, I will have to remember to take some photos. This morning we were there to take a test to evaluate our French ability. It went pretty well. Mesdames Rettler et Bowe-Wielgus, if you’re reading this, thank you!
The next day (Tuesday/yesterday), we had an academic orientation by the Minnesota faculty here. They are all very helpful in giving course recommendations and explaining the French School system. From an administrative standpoint, their universities are very similar to ours. From an academic standpoint, they are very different. For example, there is no formal homework. Yes, you do need to do work outside of class to learn the material, but there is nothing you have to do. If you don’t do well, that’s your problem. Also, there are no books. Instead, each class comes with a list of suggested reading (supplied in a Bibliographie). Sometimes this can be as long as 40 book, but most of them seem to be around 6. However, like the homework, reading these are the responsibility of the students. The teacher doesn’t care if you do or not. The last major difference is the format of the lecture/discussion sections. Some courses have a lecture of a couple hundred students. When there are this many students, there is then a discussion section (travaux dirigé) with about 30 students. In the US, each discussion section is more or less the same. However, at Paul Valery, each discussion has a specific emphasis. For example, if I want to take a class on Psycho-sociology, one discussion focuses on personality influences and the other on social influences responsible for different behaviors.
We will finalize our course selections tomorrow (Thursday) but it looks like I will be taking the following courses:
French Grammar (mandatory)
French Phonetics (mandatory)
History of Southern France (French Minor)
Literature Fantastique (French Minor)
a Psychology course
I say “a Psychology course” because I’m still waiting to hear back from my major advisor at the U to see if I can get credit. At Minnesota, the Child Psych major is different than the Psychology major. Before leaving my advisor told me I probably won’t get credit for any child/adolescent psych courses I take here. But, this is France, home of Piaget, Simon, Binet, and Hyacinthe Wallon. All these men laid the foundation of Psychology today. Most of the courses seem to have an emphasis on child psych. Even if I don’t get credit, I’ll still take a psychology class just for fun.
“L’intelligence – faculté de reconnaître sa sottise.” ~ Paul Valéry