Bonjour!

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.”

Cheers,

Jack

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