I knew vacation was over when I arrived in Nantes and it was raining as usual. I knew that I would need to get back in the “groove,” whatever that means. What is my groove here in Nantes? Have I been here long enough to develop a groove?
Actually, I have. My week is filled with classes during the day and plenty of activities at night, including the English table and Quidditch. Occasionally, the international student organization will host an activity and I’ll go to that. I pick up the regional newspaper (Ouest France) every morning and read it like I’m reading the DA (the Daily Athenaeum is West Virginia University’s official student newspaper)…except, of course, that everything is in French! I caught up on some of my regular French TV shows online. I did homework. I got tests back.* I did laundry. I went to the store. I ate lunch at the dining hall. I slept on my scratchy, thin sheets which are starting to feel more comfortable with each passing day. Yep, this is my groove and I like it.
*I got tests back…which means I have some of my first grades for some of my classes. That’s great, but I have no idea what it means. The French grading system is very different from the American system and it is difficult to find an exact convertor for the grades. The French grading system is from 0-20, 20 being the highest grade (although I have heard that it is impossible to achieve a 20…on anything). On top of this, my professors are very strict in their grading policies. Every misspelled word, every misplaced comma, every misused accent earns me a -0.5 point destruction. And when you only have 20 points and you’re writing an essay with 300+ words? Those mistakes add up quickly. What makes it worse? No one has any idea how this university is set up! We do not receive syllabuses so we have no idea how many tests we have or how much of our homework makes up our final grade. Does attendance count? Does participation count? What do they define as participation in the classroom? I do know that we have a final test at the end of the semester, but what does that consist of? How much does the final count for our final grade? Are our classes graded individually or do we receive a pass/fail for the entire program? What is the meaning of all of this and what affect will it have on my life??? So many questions and absolutely no answers. It’s exhausting, but at the end of the day? I treat every aspect of every class as if it counts for my entire grade because every assignment, every test is important, even if it isn’t important for my grade. It’s important for the learning process because while your professor can tell you that you write well, you can still make grammatical and spelling mistakes (I hate spelling – it’s tough). I try to learn from my mistakes. Making mistakes teaches me more than glossing over them, although I just wish it didn’t cost me -0.5 points for each mistake!