I need to ask for what from whom in which building on which floor?: how to navigate the French university system

 

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I’m about three weeks into my second semester here in Paris, and I must admit that being able to call myself a student at the oldest university in Paris is a kind of magic that most people will never get to experience. Most people in the language world, especially in the French language world, know the prestige that comes along with the name of the Sorbonne. The Sorbonne is one of the top universities in all of France for the humanities, and it is known world-wide as well.

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What I learned my first semester of graduate school, as a teacher.

This post is a bit delayed, as I’ve already begun and completed two weeks of my second semester of graduate school. However, I feel that it’s important to write about my experiences of teaching my first semester of graduate school, not just so others can read about it but mostly for myself, to reflect back on those first 4 months.

I have taught before. As many of you know, I taught English in France from October 2015 to April 2016. Though I was only an assistant, I did write lesson plans for some of my classes and actually taught them. However, what I taught them was completely up to me. I taught them mostly about culture while incorporating new vocabulary and some grammar points. Basically, I got to teach my students about all of the fun stuff about learning a language, as I only taught each class once a week or once every two weeks. It made teaching extremely fun and exciting. I loved seeing my students ask me questions about my native language and culture. I loved seeing their interest and enthusiasm. This is how I grew to enjoy and to love teaching.

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What I learned in my first semester of graduate school, being a student

I have said it before, and I will say it again. The more that I learn, whether it be in school or in my personal experiences, the more that I learn that I don’t know anything. Well, I guess that’s a bit of an exaggeration. I don’t not know anything, but the more that I learn the more that I learn how much more there is to learn….if you can follow my logic.

This has not been proven more true than this past semester, my first semester in graduate school. This past semester was extremely difficult for me, not only did I learn much about who I am as a person and the things in my personal life that I struggled with, but I had to relearn how to be a student. I had to relearn how to create good study habits, manage my time well, and manage stress well. On top of that, being a graduate teaching assistant, I had to learn how to be both student and teacher at the same time. There were days when I honestly was not sure that ย I was going to make it, and I honestly cried myself to sleep. However, I do not regret those blood, sweat, and tears….okay, okay so really only tears, but there were a lot of them.

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”Ain’t nobody got time for that”: 7 struggles of graduate school

It is apparent that it has been more than a month since my last post, for this I apologize, but also, not to state the obvious (but obviously to state the obvious), graduate school is hard, hence why it has taken me more than a month to write about it.

Graduate school is a culture all its own. I am finding this out the hard way. Upon my first week of classes, I had the idea that graduate school would be a lot like undergraduate, only with more intense studies and slightly more adulting involved. I couldn’t be more wrong.

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