In wrapping up the second day of classes here in Bordeaux, I must say there is an aspect of the French way of living that I have found at times troubling, and at others, relieving. To put it simply, the French are very laid back about a lot of things, especially school. I hesitate to call it a Type B society, as I don’t think even that gets to the core.
My class was scheduled to begin at 1:30 today. As I do back home, I showed up at 1:25, and was surprised to find an empty classroom. I wondered if I had made a mistake, but after checking the video boards outside the classroom, I confirmed that this was indeed the correct time and place. You might be thinking, “Well, didn’t you have this class yesterday too?” The answer is yes. However, it was at a different time, in a different classroom, and with a different teacher. Indeed, every single day the professor, location, and time of class changes. Sometimes, the professor remains consistent for a few days of the week, but not in the case of my class.
Anyways, there I sat, waiting for anyone to show up. At about 1:30, there was a group of students who walked in, though half of the class was still absent. By about 1:40, the majority had arrived, but still, no professor. Finally, at 1:45, he comes strolling in, no apology whatsoever. I found this a bit odd, though something similar had occurred yesterday. In addition, there is a 15 minute break in the middle of class, which I think was put in place so students could take a smoke break. Yeah, so many people smoke, they need to take a chunk out of class time to assuage the withdrawal that could potentially have added up over the course of an hour and a half. In any case, the 15 minute break became a half hour break today, as the professor took his sweet time returning to class. Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not advocating for a military system, but I think set times ought to be respected a bit more. However, the problem isn’t just there.
With 6 hours of class in the books (it’s more intense, as at this school, students take one class at a time for 3 weeks), there has been no syllabus, course outline, or even any homework. We have passed the time by partaking in speaking activities (French class), but have not once stopped for a lesson in grammar or vocabulary. Perhaps my frustrations are a bit forthcoming, and I should let a few more days go by, but I am a bit anxious about what the class might hold in the future. Perhaps this is simply an attempt to slowly acclimate us with the school, and more concrete material will follow. I hope so! I also am hopeful that I will not fall into the trap of being to laid back when it comes to my education. Everyday, I have been making a to-do list to keep myself moving. It isn’t so that I can accomplish tasks simply for the pleasure of making my way through a column of to-do’s, but rather, to avoid putting my feet up too much. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”