Classes in Paris

Sophie was beaten by Robert 11 times in today’s language class! The professor asked us to wait for the good ending of this story. In the end, she said, Sophie would be allowed to kill Robert in whatever way she wanted, strangling him in the elevator, giving him a stab, anything that would quench the loathe in her.

I’ve been in the language class for eight weeks already. That means if I don’t think twice about the Sophie beaten by Robert story, I could hardly feel anything special about it anymore. The violent scheme situated in different time frames (grammatically present, passé composé , imparfait …) did wake me up the fifth or sixth times it’s been verbally carried out in the morning class. The professor added in the end “it’s my own story, but only I’m Robert”.

Our language class is in Institut Catholique de Paris, a local university five minutes’ walk from le Jardin Luxembourg, with students from all over the world, Ukraine, Israel, China, U.S, Japan, Germany, Korea just to name a few. It’s two mornings for three hours each per week, the pace is moderate with much more interaction than I’ve expected and equally harsh grading systems as we were told before.

My class starts at nine in the morning, I usually leave home earlier than necessary in order not to rush and have time to wait for a second metro when everyone travels. It is the only time I can feel the charm of city in the morning. Most stores are still closed, with the wind dominating the city. In February, when ascending the stairs to the ground floor from metro station, the daylight was still burgeoning, but now, as Paris awakes earlier, a shed of sunlight can be seen in the narrow winding alley leading to the Institut Catholique.

In class, our language teacher is strict in a playful way until the Robert beating Sophie story. If you make mistakes in conjugating verbs, vous êtes mort (you are dead), if you forget to bring your homework, vous êtes mort (you’re dead). When she handed her own copy to me when once I forgot mine, she told me, with a mysterious smile, that how expensive and how much time it took her to get all the copies. She did not seem scornful, I hope she wasn’t.

If no one answers her questions, she usually says “vous êtes bien endormi?” (did you sleep well?). When someone doses off in class, she would ask us to lower our voice in order not to wake him up. When she asks whether we have further questions, if we do, she jokingly begs us to ask easy questions, otherwise she wouldn’t answer. She says all her joking with a tint of monologue as she does answer all our questions, but at the same time saying that is indispensible.

Classes back in our host institutions ACCENT are easier to adapt to because the professors face only students from the U.S., they might have slightly adjust their teaching style. The art history class with a weekly visit to major museums in Paris is my favorite. The professor is passionate in explaining the gist of paintings with his flamboyant gestures, in class but also in the museum no matter how many tourists are around us. Besides art history class, sociology and literature classes also offer outings. Véronique, the sociology professor, never hides her pride for France, the biggest, the most fertile country with excellent longevity of its people in Europe, and also her preference for “Petit Nicolas” (Sarkozy) in current election seasons.

All classes go well and I like the commuting between classes. Going through half Paris, I feel that learning is never confined.