Monday, August 8, 2011

Only one more week

So here I am at the halfway point of my school break. Trying to enjoy the time that's left and a little bit anxious about what's ahead. As I write this it's a beautiful but windy blue sky with puffy clouds. I've just napped about forty-five minutes while Juliette naps. I'm praying she continues to bless me with my lovely afternoon naps for a good part of this year, because I'm going to need that time to study.

As I mentioned, my French teacher told us to really chill during this break. But I feel the need to review a little in chemistry (nomenclature and being able to assess why a chemical product is dangerous) as this is where I'm rather rusty. Trust me though, I haven't been doing it every day nor four hours a day.

Mostly in the two weeks before my break we had chemistry classes, a few on lab analysis, the general principles, and lots of English and French (that's with the pop star teacher, who is incidentally very good at his job). I'm going to have to write a report in French (this year's general theme is money), and we've been reading some texts in class about the theme, too. Let me tell you that reading Karl Marx is difficult in English, so imagine doing it in French. But in general, I'm enjoying things, though sometimes freaking out at all the work that awaits me. Like a community service project?! What does that have to do with working in a lab? Absolutely nothing but it's part of the program.

English has been ok, though a bit odd. The teacher is cool about the fact that I'm already a native speaker. We were in the language lab all week as we have to practice understanding oral comprehension for their test at the end. It is frankly weird to be on the other side of the desk and be taking notes on what the person calling wanted in the telephone conversation. The very same type of exercises I gave my students before! We haven't done much speaking yet. It is a class of ten or eleven and it's harder to let everyone have a chance to talk, I suppose. Of course, the subject is not difficult for me (duh!), but I'll just have to not get tripped up on questions that are simple because I'm trying to make them complicated.

English classes aside, it is still strange to be in an all-French environment all day. I can honestly say there are times I miss chatting with my colleagues in English and being able to shoot the breeze with students. At school I feel a bit more self-conscious about what I say, because I know they could spot the fact that I'm not always at ease with the language. I also appreciate speaking English at home with Juliette and Remi even more now.

But luckily the cameraderie between the classmates (only about 14 of us) is good, and that makes the time pass quickly. One girl who tried med school in France told me it's not the same at all. Here you can start med school pre-requisite studies without taking any type of exam (as opposed to the MCAT in the US). And because there is such fierce competition to make it through the first year, those who are repeating it will make noise when the professor says something very important in class. That way first years can't hear it and are almost doomed to fail the exam. I was just shocked to hear that. It sounds like such a cruel system. Yet another difference between France and the US regarding education.

Alright, no more school talk now! More rest, home projects and baking (and light studying now and then)!


Jenenz said...

Milam, I am so blow away that you are back in school, taking chemistry, attending courses taught in French, raising a are a superwoman! Enjoy the week, make it all about you if possible.

p.s. Would love to hear about what you baked this week! Your creations are delicious.

Deidre said...

I had to take the english as a second language test for my visa into Australia (true story). And I think i actually lost post on the written portion because I used big words.

Good luck and enjoy your break!