This week I started my first and (hopefully) last university semester for my Bachelor’s degree. Let me tell you, it was not at all what I expected!
Before I write about how Sciences Po University works, I will give you a quick history lesson on the University…I promise it will be brief!
Officially called Institut d’études politiques d’Aix-en-Provence, it is referred to by the students as Sciences Po. There are a number of campuses around France with the main one being in Paris. These institutions have the status of what they call in France grand établissement, which means the University is allowed to be highly selective on who is accepted. The French students have to sit an entrance exam and get a certain mark or above to be able to attend. It is considered one of the best Political Science University’s in France and is ranked number 14 the world.
If you were like me, you would be pretty impressed with this description. So when my first day of lectures rocked around I was feeling slightly nervous as I was a a minute or 10 late. I thought I would have to stumble into a formal situation and apoligise to the lecturer for disrupting the class. However, this turned out not to be the case as the lecturer was even later than me and decided to change rooms to fit all the students in. The room we changed to was not a room at all but a beautiful old amphitheater with a second story of balcony seating and the walls still adorned with renaissance art – I can thank art history for that knowledgeable sentence! The class was called Democratization and Human Rights and proved to be quite interesting for the 15 minutes that I tuned in for… I was too fascinated by the amphitheater and then our lecturer whose shirt had turned dark blue from all his sweat.To be fair it was a 30 degree day!
University has turned out to be a complete surprise. Because I am taking English speaking papers which are aimed at the French students, it sounds as though it may simpler than I thought. For the first three weeks, we have the opportunity to attend any classes we like, then sign up for the ones we want to take for exams. All the lectures are 2 hours long, once a week and have either a short written or oral exam worth your whole grade. To pass you need 10 or above out of 20 but the French lecturers are apparently notorious for not giving anyone above 14. Some lectures are 4 hours long but then are only for 5 weeks, as one of mine is but as a bonus for this the exam is being brought forward. Another one of my exams is also an essay on any topic due in November. I managed to wing my timetable so I have Thursday’s and Friday’s off too. So far University is looking pretty chilled without any assignments or tests, let’s just hope it stays that way!
To finish talking about this week’s adventures I will leave you all with some photos of La Ciotat to have a look at. Another little harbour town, not as nice as Cassis but still very sweet. It feels like I am on one big holiday…La vie est belle X