Our first day on campus was a bit bizarre! Being used to a relatively large campus back in DCU at home, when we arrived at Sup de Co we were a little bit underwhelmed by what we were greeted by. The reason being: it’s not TECHNICALLY a college or a university. It’s a “Business School”. Literally a 3rd level education institution that ONLY does Business and French courses. They’re extremely common in France but we didn’t know that before arriving, hence why we were a bit surprised.
The course it seems is VERY similar to what we’ve been doing so far at home. For example our classes for Semester 1 consist of Marketing, Human Resources, Organisational Theory and a bit of IT...which is exactly what we did last year. That’s made it actually very easy for us to get to grips with what’s going on in the classes. It’s also making it a lot easier to understand and learn French in class. Because we know the gist of what the lecturer’s are talking about in English, we’ve been able to concentrate on understanding what they’re saying in French and trying to relate the words to what we already know about the subjects.
As I said, the college isn’t big...it’s not so much a campus as a small collection of buildings. Therefore finding our way around and getting our bearings of the place has been extremely easy. It’s all very well laid out so it’s not difficult to find a classroom even if we’ve never been in it.
We’ve already been told about presentations and projects we have to do for each class over the coming weeks up to Christmas. Luckily for me they go in alphabetical order based on first names here...so none of my presentations are until December! Which is good because watching the people who’ve had to present already they seem to be struggling a little bit at the moment. The Erasmus students all have a high level of French but it’s still as new for them as it is for us to be presenting on business modules through French.
Planning out the presentations and projects is going to be extremely good for our French because none of the 6 of us have been placed in groups together. We’re all with at least one French student and then a load of other Erasmus students. While everyone speaks English, the motivation will still be to speak French amongst each other within the groups because it’s the common language for all of us here. I’m hoping and expecting that by Christmas by virtue of purely speaking it within groups my French will improve a lot...it already has!
The students in the college are all amazingly friendly and welcoming; French and Erasmus students alike. With the other Erasmus students it’s been easier to communicate with them all through English for the first few weeks. It’s been much easier to get to know everyone that way but now that that’s out of the way we’ve begun weaning ourselves off speaking English...we’re going to have to start speaking French amongst ourselves if we hope to improve.
The French students are actually a lot more friendly and accommodating than we had originally thought they would be. With a lot of French people we’ve met in clubs or shops and talked to they find it very difficult to understand our French (even if the grammar is faultless) unless we speak in perfect French accents. Personally we all find this a bit hypocritical because if someone comes to Ireland and speaks English with a French/Spanish/German accent we still generally understand everything they’re saying to us...that’s not quite the case here.
That said, the students are much more accommodating for our accents...likely because they themselves have been on years abroad to foreign countries and understand the situation we’re in. We’ve made the effort to speak French to them as much as possible while trying to use as good French accents as we can manage at the moment. Because of that they’re more than willing to speak English to us if we’re struggling to explain something in French. The majority of the time we’re making a conscious effort to speak French to them though.
(On a side note...the French students are so good they even went through the effort of filming their own Harlem Shake video in the big Amphitheatre in the college last year when that was the big thing to do...I’ve sent in a link to the video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kHoySPul7c Enjoy)
Overall I’m actually really enjoying the course so far, we all are! 8am lectures are a bit unnecessary and difficult to get up for; but the lectures are interesting and enjoyable, the lecturers are very good and easy to understand and follow even when they speak quickly, and the content of the course is very easy for us because we’ve done it all before.
Settling in has been an interesting challenge, but that’s a story for the next blog!