The Case of the Missing Professors

French University system = quite confusing. On Monday I made my way to the Centre Malesherbes (Good thing I didn’t ask anyone directions because it is pronounced Mal-es- herbes and I originally thought it was Mal-sherbes.) I found my way to the correct class after walking through a courtyard filled with angsty-looking French students smoking.

Another Columbia program student and I sat down in the crowded lecture hall where our “cours magistral” (CM) on “Métiers de l’écrit” was supposed to meet. Everyone was chatting away while waiting for the professor to arrive. Waiting, waiting, waiting… nobody showed up! A lot of students left after 15-20 minutes. Anna and I stayed the whole time, and nobody showed up. Quel mystère! The French students were just as miffed and confused as us Americans.

Afterwards Anna and I attended the “travaux dirigés” (TD) associated with “Métiers de l’écrit.” The TD is supposed to be a smaller group where the professor can more easily help students, but it seemed like a fairly big class to me, coming from a small liberal arts college! Also confusing: apparently there is only a final exam for the CM class, but more modes of evaluation in the TD class. In most TD classes, you have to read tons of supplemental materials. Weird.

As Anna and I were walking out of the building, we ran into a few other Columbia students. They were peeved because they realized they attended the wrong class and had wanted to attend the one Anna and I had tried to go to. Lucky for them, they didn’t miss anything!

Les mystères ont continué le mardi… the mysteries continued this Tuesday, when I tried to attend a philosophy class on the French philosopher Merleau-Ponty. Successfully made it to the Paris IV building, trying to blend in with the other students while I waited outside the classroom for the professor to show up. Problem was, the professor never showed up! Again! I knew I was in the right spot because a girl next to me asked me what class I was waiting for. We figured out that both of us were foreign (she was Dutch) and had a nice convo about being philosophy majors and being abroad. Twenty minutes later nobody has shown up and we realize the only students waiting outside the class are foreigners! Turns out that our course is neither a CM nor a TD, it is an elective/option. Thus, it does not start until next week. Oy vey! All the foreign students had made the same mistake, and we decided to grab a coffee. It was funny speaking English in France with two girls who were neither French nor American. End result: I now have a Dutch and a Norwegian friend who will be taking a philosophy class with me.

This pic is from Café Saint Augustin, où j’ai pris un chocolat chaud ce dimanche avec Matt et Rachel.

Sidenote: One of the security guards at Paris IV tried to pick me up… (security guards at a university hitting on students, that’s got to be against some kind of rule.) Here’s roughly how our conversation went down (in French)

**I turn him down***

Old guy: “Oh, do you have a boyfriend? Is he in the US or France?”

Me: “Yes, uhhh in the US” (For the record, I am better at lying in French than in English!)

Old guy: “Then there’s no problem! He is in the US and I am in France.”



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