French University Life Vs English University Life

So I have finally officially chosen my modules for this semester. Erasmus students at my university are allowed to pick and choose any modules we want at the university, although there are a few compulsory ones that we have to do. I have therefore chosen family law, international relations theory, historical introduction to the law, crisis theory, and Arabic for beginners. I also take a few compulsory modules which are juridical methodology, French as a foreign language, and introduction to French law. I have had a fortnight of classes so far and I am enjoying it, but it is hard. I am recording most of my lectures because I do miss things sometimes due to not understanding the language.

I have noticed some differences between my university here in France and my university back in England. Back home, my lectures are usually 1 hour long, occasionally 2 hours long, and they are supplemented with fortnightly tutorials which are in small groups of around 10 people and are for one hour long as well. French classes are groups of about 25. Here, my lectures are all 3 hours long – so instead of having 3 separate 1hr lectures like at home, I only have each subject once a week for 3 hours straight. It’s not a full three hours though as we usually start at 5 past, finish at 10 to, and have about 15 minutes of breaks in the middle as well so I guess it is more like 2 and a half hours. It is a long time for me to concentrate at once, and also not great for me as a disabled student because if I am too unwell to go in one day, I will miss 3 hours of one subject which is a lot. On the other hand it means my contact hours are more condensed, which is good for me as a disabled student who struggles to spend huge amounts of time on campus and things.

Another difference is that almost every single person in the lecture theatre takes notes on a netbook. In one lecture I counted like 4 of us who didn’t. My laptop is too big and heavy to lug to/from/around uni because of my back problems so I have to handwrite, which is hard for 3 hours, especially because due to dyslexia I write slow. I do however have good notetaking skills (abbreviations, bullet points, bare minimums of info so that I can read up about it later etc).

My campus is also MUCH smaller than at home. It’s literally one building, and changeover times are like being back at school, the corridors are jammed with people, it’s really strange! Food on campus is largely cheaper, because there are two state-subsidised places to eat (a bistro and a restaurant). The library is much smaller than at home, and much less popular, and people don’t tend to use the computers there whereas at my home uni library the computers are always full. I actually prefer the library here though because it’s small size is less intimidating for my anxiety disorder, oh and all of it is silent, the whole library, and people respect that rule. So I like the quiet there too, unlike the loud chatter at my home university’s library that makes it hard to concentrate on studying.

Another difference is that here university classes start at 8am and finish at 8pm, Monday – Saturday whereas at home they only run between 9am and 6pm Monday-Friday. I have arranged my modules so that I only have one 8am class a week thankfully though, as I find mornings very hard due to my how my health conditions affect me. I have 17 contact hours a week which is comparable to what I had at home.

I have enough other differences for another blog post. 🙂

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