Friday, September 9, 2011

Lycée and the other 8 levels of hell.

So today was my last day of my first week of French school. It was.... odd, to say the least. Frustrating, annoying, confusing, fun, inspiring, weird and unlike anything I've ever experienced. It started off on Tuesday morning when I got up to an alarm clock and had that sinking feeling in my gut that every teenager gets when they realize for the next eight or nine months they'll have to get up before the sun five times a week and go sit in a room and take notes and what-not. Anyway, I got up, showered and got my school stuff together. For French school, the material list is way more specific than at home. For example, you have to have a real ink cartridge pen. Not like the ones at home, but one where you unscrew it and put an ink cartridge in and the tip is a metal nub like on the feather quills they used in the 1800's and Harry Potter! (Except minus the feather and the magic wands.) Along with that, you need a special pen with special ink that magically blots out the ink from the other pen if you make a mistake, which I do constantly since I'm used to just erasing it. That's another weird thing: no one really uses normal pencils with graphite. Instead they use their fancy, and awesome, French pens or mechanical pencils, which I despise. The normal French student also always has a mini geometry kit in their pencil case: compasses, angle rulers, straight-edges, the works. On top of that, you need a notebook for each class and then your textbooks. I think, by the time my backpack was fully loaded, it out-weighed me!

So after I was packed, I had my warm-cereal French breakfast with fresh buttered baguette (I now understand why people would think the French survive on a diet of baguette, which they don't at all.) Then Guillaume and I headed to our bus stop. One big difference between here and home is the bus. En France, il y a pas de bus d'école. There is only public transportation which, while pricey and crowded, is good for the other drivers on the road because they don't have to worry about yellow buses stopping at every curb and unloading tons of kids. So we took our bus from our stop, Chateau Erigné, to the stop near our school in Angers, about a 15-minute drive. We walked a little and came to good ol' Lycée Jean Bodin. Across the street is the Athlétis which I guess is the gym. I haven't had gym yet because my schedule keeps changing but I will on Monday and from what I've heard it's a pretty rigorous course with plenty of javelin, discus and sprinting. So we waited for school to start outside on the plaza thing in front of the school. Then we all went in. Now at first I was class 107, but just the other day I got it changed so now I'm in the same class as Guillaume and another friend. My curriculum is Première S, which means the second (out of 3) year of high school, in the S course. The last two year sof lycée in France are divided up into three groups: S, ES and L. But what am I saying? You already know this since I'm you've read every word of my previous posts! Haha, no.... Anyway my curriculum involves a whole bunch of double sessions of math and two different science classes: physics/chimie (physics, chemistry) and SVT (science de vie de la terre, a.k.a. biology). Then I also have gym, Français, Anglais (yes, I'm taking Englis, it's gona be great!), Histoire et Géographie, and a course with a wicked long name that more or less boils down to economics/government class. Oh yeah, and German. At first I was signed up for Espagnol but when I told my host parents that I'd never learned a word of Spanish, they called up the school and got me changed into Allemand. I haven't had it yet but I'm looking forward to it because I've never had a formal education in German and I want to be able to speak more fluently with my family in Switzerland. (However, Mom, don't have high expectations for German because I don't think I'll learn to much what with me having to understand the language it's being taught in first. I'm sure it's hard enough to translate English into German, never-mind English into French into German. It's pretty intense so far, but I've definitely gotten better at semi-understanding what they're saying even if it doesn't convey in my notes. Speaking of which, the French have a very specific way of taking notes that every student, beside me of course, knows and follows. Certain titles get boxes of different colors, the same with names and dates and stuff. There is a very strict way of taking notes that if extremely neat and efficient so of course mine look terrible and sloppy but compared to the notes I usually take at home, if I do wish is not often required, they're beautiful and perfect!
Something else worth mentioning is the lunches at school. Coming from American hot lunches or gray peas, bouncy bread and grapes in a package that says "GIGGLES!" all over it, the lunches here are awesome. Of course all the French students think it's crap but whatever, that's their problem. Anyway, here you get to pick an appetizer, usually some kind of salad or little dish of some sort. Then there's fruit to choose from (fresh, real fruit, not canned or vacuum-sealed little boxes) then the main course with at least 3 or 4 different choices everyday, followed by the desserts, followed by bread and cheese (optional). It's awesome! Today I had a couscous salad to start, then a side of greens and dressing with my pasta carbonara, a kiwi, a bread roll with some little cheese spread thingy and a lemon tart to finish it all off. J'aime la France! Vivre la France!
So that's all the detail I'm going to go into for now because it's kind of 1:23 AM over here.... (I always end up writing my posts really late, it's weird). Anyway, remind me to talk about Angers because I got back from a city wide party a couple hours ago and it was DEFINITELY worth mentioning.
À tout a l'heure,

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