Well, my finals are finally finished. On Thursday, they will post whether or not we passed on the wall of our school. Our success or failure will be public, like a Facebook post. So…let’s hope I passed!
I think my exams went okay. My first exam was written comprehension. I felt pretty confident about my answers, except for one. Unfortunately, it was the one question that was worth the most out of the entire exam. I felt like it was a pretty unfair question because it asked us to reword the philosophy of one guy and his quote was virtually impossible to understand. His quote, which we had to explain in our own words, was only three lines long, but it was filled with lots of unknown vocabulary. One of the words? Décalcomanie. Don’t know what that word means in French? Let me translate it for you. Decalcomania. That’s an English word. I tried to be logical and use the context of the entire text to derive a meaning for this philosophy, but it was tough. After the exam, I looked on Wikipedia and found out that decalcomania is “a decorative technique by which engravings and prints may be transferred to pottery or other materials. It was invented in England about 1750 and imported into the United States at least as early as 1865.” I’ll be honest. That’s not what I wrote on my exam! Especially since the exam was talking about tattoos!
My second exam was oral comprehension and that was alright. I usually don’t have a problem understanding French and I felt like I answered most of the questions correctly. However, there was one question that had three answers to it…and I didn’t hear any of them at all. We’re allowed to listen to the document twice and I thought I just missed it the first time around, but I missed it the second time too. Oh well. I couldn’t leave the answers blank so I just wrote random guesses down. You never know, right?
My third exam was my written expression. Throughout the semester, my grammar teacher has been dropping strange hints like, “You might want to know synonyms for this word” or “It’s very important to know the difference between active and passive voices.” She always would say these things in a strange voice and I actually starred them in my notes. When I was studying for finals, I looked at these things and I’m glad I did! She actually gave us hints throughout the entire semester! She must have written the exam. I felt very confident in my answers for that exam.
All of those three exams were on the same day: Tuesday. It was an extremely long day and my brain was essentially fried after that. My final exam was my oral expression and that was yesterday.
I was pretty nervous because you pick a random topic and then have to develop a scholarly argument on it. You have fifteen minutes of preparation and fifteen minutes to speak, with questions from the professor afterwards. And you could get any professor. I got to the classroom early and waited outside of the door. At my time, the professor opened the door and I was immediately relieved. It was my theatre professor.
A quick words on professors in France. In the United States, I feel quite close to my professors. I feel like I can go to them if I have a question or a problem. But in France? My professors are reluctant to give you their university e-mail address and they don’t have office hours. They show up for the class and then leave. You don’t really develop a relationship with them as people, although this could be because we are international students and we usually leave after the semester.
However, one professor was a bit different from the others. My theatre professor. She helped me pick out my monologue for the cabaret. She definitely encouraged me during class and I always felt very comfortable around her, compared to other professors where I was scared to make a mistake when speaking for fear of a severe reprimand. So, when I saw it was my theatre professor, I felt much better.
I picked my topic at random and ended up having to talk about food scandals. At first, I panicked and couldn’t think of how to develop a two part argument with three argumentations and examples for each part. To make things tougher, someone is giving their oral exam at the same time you are preparing. So, you’re listening to that, but trying to think and it was a little stressful. But then I remembered something. Didn’t I learn about GMO’s in a French culture class at WVU? Didn’t I talk about the difference between local foods and commercial foods in my oral expression class just last semester? Suddenly, I had a million ideas and I scribbled those down on paper.
Then it was time to talk. When talking to professors, I usually make a fool of myself because I’m so nervous to speak. When speaking to French students or on the street, I’m much more relaxed and I definitely speak better than when I’m in a classroom. So, I should have been scared, but it was my theatre professor. I treated it like a performance and, suddenly, I realized I gave the best argumentative speech in French in my life. I was pleasantly surprised. Then, it was my professor’s turn. I expected the professors to grill us on our structure and our arguments, but she wasn’t too bad. I actually found out something important about France. I was talking about the scandal of food in Europe where horse meat was being sold as beef and I said that in the western world, it is a taboo to eat horse meat. My professor corrected me and told me that it is only a taboo in Anglo-Saxon countries like the United States and the United Kingdom. Apparently, in France, it is possible to go to a specialty shop and buy horse meat. When my professor was in school, she actually ate horse meat in the cafeteria. I was pretty surprised by that. So, my oral expression was also a learning opportunity for me.
And then, I was done. I’m done with school. I’m Kellene O’Hara and I completed a semester of university in France. Now, all I have to do is wait for the results.