I am happy to report that I survived my first two days of class, including 8.5hrs of French economics (which was about as fun as it sounds). I showed up about 20 minutes early, to find that most of my classmates were already there, snacking on coffee and croissants. I guess that's one of the perks of doing an 'adult' masters - though with how much we are paying them compared to a normal student, they can probably afford it too!
Almost everyone was wearing business attire - from casual business to a full-on suit and tie. I went with dark jeans, a nice top, a black blazer and ballet flats....and ended up being the only person wearing jeans, but oh well. It didn't bother me enough to not wear jeans again Saturday - if I'm going to sit at a desk for 8hrs, I want to be comfortable.
As I mentioned the other day, I was really curious to see what the others would bring for classroom supplies. We were provided with a folder, a notebook and a pen, and pretty much everybody used that to take notes (minus one guy on a laptop). I didn't see any sign of rulers or pencil cases anywhere, but maybe that will change as time goes on.
We have lunch provided as part of our course fees, and the first day, we had sort of a buffet-style lunch with everyone from last year's group. They have about two months left in their program, so the director encouraged us to mingle and learn from their experiences. Their average age looked quite a bit older than our group, but as the director reminded us earlier in the day, you only get out of an experience what you put in, so I sucked it up and first went to talk to two women near the bar. One of them ended up being super friendly and so, so enthusiastic about the program. She's a cancer surgeon at Curie Institute and very willingly answered the questions I had about the year to come. Funnily enough, we got to talking about the entrance interview too, and she said that the director was so mean to her as well and that she was convinced she wasn't going to get in. So that made me feel better about the whole interview process. I also asked her if there were any foreigners in her year so I could talk to them too and see how they were holding up, but unfortunately there weren't.
Speaking of which though, we actually have five foreigners in my class. Besides me, there's the Romanian woman I mentioned previously, an Italian woman, a Lebanese guy and a Russian guy. There are also a lot more women than in the previous years, and a handful of people my age, so I don't stick out as much as I thought. Though I have gotten quite a few friendly digs from the professors during comparisons between France and the US...so far, it hasn't bothered me, I know the US is an easy target.
Another funny thing that I have noticed throughout my time in France is that people look disappointed whenever I tell them where I am from. It starts out "Hey! You're American - which state do you come from?" And then I reply "Minnesota" and they're like "Oh...." *crickets chirping* since most people have never even heard of it. And then I find myself justifying my home state by saying things like "There are 10,000 lakes!" and "Prince lives there!". It makes for an awkward pause in the conversation though, and I always feel though that I'm letting them down by not saying something cool like New York or California.
Lastly, during one of our breaks, we saw Sarko jogging down the street, followed by two bodyguards and a limo. We were laughing about the bodyguard part, or at least until the following morning when one of our fellow classmates got carjacked when getting out of his car! At 8am on a Saturday morning in the 16th arrondissement. Apparently he got beat up and even had to go to the hospital. How crazy is that?? Some people thought maybe he had parked in the Bois de Boulogne and that's where it happened, but we won't know for sure until the next class....
Labels: Masters in France