US vs France Classrooms




Last week I had some problems with readjusting because of the Marseille portion. It consisted of moving into a new apartment, learning how to navigate the city (which is much bigger than Nice), debating over eating out or cooking, and many other things. However, I’ve had consistency this week and I feel like I’ve settled into a routine for Marseille. I haven’t gotten too comfortable because I leave for Morocco tomorrow! But I want to touch on the school aspect since that’s what I spend the majority of my time here in Marseille.

In previous journals, I’ve briefly touched on the teaching style and how it compares to the US. The professors at IES Nice teach at the local university and follow France’s school system. So, there is a heavy reliance on participation, oral presentation of readings, discussions, and a final research paper that we will be working on over the course of the semester. I have always been used to lectures and writing down notes, so this is new to me. Personally, I am a visual learner and prefer lecture slides so I initially found it difficult to keep up with the professor’s oral lecture.

Although the professor includes powerpoint slides in the lecture, there is still a heavy reliance on the oral lecture. I usually tend to zone out, but because of this it has forced me to be more attentive. It was difficult at first – especially with the history course where there are so many dates and events to remember – but I feel like I learn more since I am forcing myself to listen. I presented my first report on one of the readings! I felt really proud of my presentation and the professor enjoyed it, as well as my classmates. Over the years of school (back in the US), I’ve tried different approaches when it comes to reading long articles and books so I wasn’t too worried about this report. I was mainly worried about the final paper – which is only about 2 and half weeks away – but we got more details and clarity from the professor. This week, I chose a topic and am currently writing a writing plan so I can get started right away when I get back to Nice.

As mentioned before, I know I have to leave Marseille soon so even though I’m not getting too comfortable, I am enjoying the routine I’ve established here. There has been consistency with the school aspect – that is professor, homework, lectures, topics – so this hasn’t really been an issue. If anything, I’ve gotten used to this and enjoy going to class now. There’s just been a lot of moving around, but I am super excited to have a break from school and enjoy Morocco! Next week’s journal will cover my experience in Morocco so stay tuned :)