La Vie à Lyon

Living, learning and loving in Lyon !

Archive for the tag “uni”

Tales from the other side of the desk, October 2012 edition

Week 2 of the semester has come to an end, and I’ve gotten to know some more about my classes and my camerades. There’s 26 of us in our group, which makes for interesting seating arrangements in tiny classrooms built for 15 ! There never seems to be enough chairs or computers, and when we do actually get a room change, admin forgets to tell the professor ! But sweeping all that aside, with a roll of the eyes, a flick of the hand and a sarcastic “Pfft ! French administration !” it’s been fun enough.

As usual, there are people from all over – China, Thailand, USA, Canada, Japan, Bulgaria, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, South Korea, Hong Kong, Ghana, Russia, and the land Down Under (me) ! We seem to have lucked out with professors – no wicked witches like last semester – although one is also a high school professor, super knowledgeable, enthusiastic and knows everything about French history, but is more used to talking to Frenchies than foreigners (read – he talks at us, non-stop, a million miles an hour, for 105 minutes. Whew !), and another is brand new and very nervous. We’re not that scary !

Some highlights so far :

  • Asami introducing Karla, who has a pet bird, and saying that she has a petit oiseau, which is slang for a little boy’s private parts.
  • a professor making a typo (I still maintain it was his mistake !) when requesting online homework, which resulted in us sending him photos of our feet !
  • brainstorming swear words in a comprehension class. Hey, we have to keep up with the times !

It’s not all fun and games though. It’s a jump from B1, and our profs, although nice, are demanding and have high expectations. Not one person managed to finish our Written Expression assignment in the allocated time the other day, which resulted in a lecture about exams and organising our time and so forth. Oh dear.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to practise my swearing !

Bisous !


La vie étudiante

We’ve finally received our uni timtables and are ready to get back into the swing of things on Monday. Well…I am ! This semester I’m going to be studying level B2 17.5 hours a week (and reverting to level A1 and English the other 150.5) ! I’ll have classes with some of my good friends from last year – those who I started A1 with – plus lots of newbies, or friends I haven’t met yet !

As well as our linguistic classes, we had two options to choose from this semester, each containing three classes – Sciences Humaines and Sciences Sociales. I chose the first, which includes Littérature classique et moderne, Histoire et Géographie and Vie artistique en France. The other, aside from Vie économique en France, sounded good too, with Histoire et societé and Vie publique en France.

The timetable’s all over the place – classes start at 8, 10 or 12, finish at 12, 2, 4 or 6, I have a 2 hour break on Mondays and Fridays and nothing on Tuesdays but hey – c’est la vie étudiante !

Bisous !

La rentrée (3 weeks later)…

I was pretty happy to head in to uni yesterday, a week after la rentrée (start of term) for everyone else. It was the welcome day for continuing students – I was excited to see my old friends and, at the 15-week mark, the summer holidays are getting just a little too long !

I thought that, as we’ve all been here for at least one semester and know the drill (insurance, methods of payment) and we don’t need to do any of the placement tests, we’d get everything organised to start classes next Monday.

But no. It’s France. Silly me !

Friday is the (leniant) deadline to prove that we’re insured for the year. My payday is next Wednesday, timetables will be ready next Thursday, we meet our group and choose our options next Friday and, finally, classes start the Monday after.

Cadeaux !

We did receive a cute little diary, and a pencil, but yep.

Two more weeks of summer holidays…

Bisous !

Until next time…

My 4 week summer course finished yesterday, with presentations from all the project groups, a typical French picnic lunch (sans wine!), our final grades, and lots of hugs and au revoirs !

I found it an extremely worthwhile course, espacially as I took the A2 level classes, which I’d skipped during the school year. It was perfect for strengthening my grammar basics (pfft, as if anything is basic in French !) and I even received my first official 20/20 ! If you’ve ever got a spare July in Lyon, and you’re wondering what to do, I’d recommend it ! The friends you make are an added bonus 🙂

Now, what to do until September, and the start of the next semester…

Bisous !

School’s cool !

For lack of better things to do over the loooong summer break, I enrolled in a 4 week language and culture course at my uni. After a few hiccups at the start, all is going well and I am now catching up on the things I missed when I skipped a level – the imparfait, the plus-que-parfait, CODs and COIs and those bloody third group verbs!

Most of the students are from the USA and South Korea, and participating in study abroad programs organised by their universities back home. Then there’s a few randoms, like me, who are participating for other reasons. Having a French boyfriend that they need to communicate with, for example !

We have a two-hour language class each day, plus a two-hour project class. We have three projects of 12 hours each over the 4 weeks – I’m taking Ecriture Creative, Rencontres and Photos Animées.

Ecriture creative is creative writing, in which we…write creatively ! I even wrote my first poem in French:

Je veux aller à la mer / Où je peux prende un peu l’air

Où je peux ne rien faire / Sauf boire de fraiches, très bonnes bières

Very deep and meaningful stuff, that !

In Rencontres, we meet people from outside the university and talk with them about anything and everything, then prepare a little speech about them. The main focus is oral expression, and our prof films our presentations then goes over them with us, highlighting strengths and weaknesses, and what we can do to keep improving (I now have a little poster of lip and tongue positions to work on my vowel pronunciation!).  I love that she has the time to do this – it’s summer school and there’s only about 50 students in total, compared to the 500 during the semester !

And in Photos Animées we’re designing short comic strips set in Lyon. We’ve had a great time making up a story (involving the duck from my last post!), organising a story board, running around the Parc de la Tête d’Or taking photos and drawing what we can’t take photos of !

We have another week of classes then, on the final day, a big exposition of all the project work we’ve done.

Stay tuned for our comic strip !

Bisous !

Les examens…

As I feel like my head is about to explode and cover the house in French verbs, I decided to take a break and use some English, my langue maternelle! Yes, that’s right, it’s exam time again!

I had three last week, have three coming up this week and one after the Easter break.

Last week I had Familiar French, Written Expression/Grammar 1 and  Written Comprehension. Next week it’s Written Expression/Grammar 2, Oral Comprehension and Oral Expression. Civilisation’s after the holidays. We don’t have an exam for Creative Writing, rather an assignment worth a rather large chunk of our grade!

I think I’m going okay so far – nothing has been totally out of my league, but I think I’ve given my FF prof a good laugh – I mucked up the proverb Qui vol un oeuf, vol un boeuf (he who steals an egg can steal an ox) by writing qui vol un poulet (chicken), vol un boeuf! Whoops!

Extra points for humour, peut être?


Français familier

One of my classes is dedicated to the français familier, or familiar French. The everyday French that people use differs greatly to that which we are taught in our regular classes. We’re taught polite, bordering on formal, French (français standard or soutenu) – stuff that, when I tell Sim what I’ve learnt he says ‘Yes, that’s correct but noone talks like that!’ Sups…

Here’re a few for you:

  • Sups – short for super, used sarcastically.
  • Blé, fric, tunes – money, but equivalent to dough, cash, dosh. Money is de l’argent.
  • Bourré – drunk. Drunk is ivre, kind of sounds like the name Yves…unlucky!
  • Boudin – ugly. In Français standard, a boudin is a fat sausage!
  • Came – drugs. Our prof told us that on an excursion to La Guillotière, a known drug trafficking area (excursion?!), a student was pounced on by undercover police when he asked ‘Qu’est-ce que ce, la came?’ or, ‘What is came?’ But it’s pronounced like ‘calm’ so be careful! Don’t go looking for calm in La Guillotière – you never know what you’ll get! Arrested, perhaps.
  • Canon – a beautiful girl.
  • Flics – police, equivalent to cops.
  • Poulets – police, equivalent to pigs. In français standard, poulet is chicken.
  • Mec – guy.
  • Nana – chick.

And, my favourite, péter – to fart. Our teacher had a great laugh explaining this one, even drawing diagrams on the board!

Lucky there’s noone called Peter in my group!


J’adore mon dictionnaire…

I’ve started my third week of Level B1 at uni, and it’s now too late to change to Level A2 (the level I skipped). We were introduced to the subjonctif today, and we had to write a film review including phrases in this mood – without using our verb dictionaries! I could’ve cried. I’m actually quite attached to my dictionary. I managed about half a page and two phrases in the subjonctif before our 45 minutes was up!

Yes, 12000 verbs, and how to conjugate them ALL!

The verb dictionary is one of the most valuable things a student of French can have, aside from a photographic memory or a French boy/girl friend. It lists all the verbs and how they’re used depending on the person, mood and tense you’re using (or trying to use). That’s around 40 different ways to use the one verb.

Did I mention that French is quite ridiculous complicated?


More tales from the other side of the desk…

I’m back at uni now, and blundering along in my new level. It’s certainly a leap from my previous level, and I’m yet to figure out if it’s too much of a leap, or just right. Some things are, as we say back home, ‘Flying with QANTAS’ (or perhaps Air France?) but others have been quite easy to pick up and start using. Maybe because I’ve just…had to!

Look at those tiny lines…

The timetable’s great, with 10am starts and Thursdays off; and I’m happy with my elective subjects – Français Familier and Ecriture Creative. Watch this space for poems in French! We have a Civilisation class, plus the normal reading, writing, speaking, listening and comprehension – or, as is often the case – incomprehension!

I still have the option to change, but I reckon I’ll stay.

Je suis courageuse – ou stupide!


Are you thinking what I’m thinking, B1?

Holidays are just about over. Today I went to the CIEF to find out my group, teachers and timetable for Semester 2, and to choose my elective subjects. I was disappointed not to be in a group with any of my friends, but maybe we’ll have some of the same electives. And hey – I’ll just have to make some new friends!

My timetable is cool. My classes are all between 10 and 3:45, and I have Thursdays off. It was a nice surprise to find out that some of us had moved up two levels – instead of continuing into A2, we’re in B1. We still have our language classes, but they’re now supplemented by a French civilisation class and two elective classes. We have mid and end of semester exams, and assignments. B1 is the required level of French for one wishing to become a citizen. Not that I am…yet.

It’s study time!

Bananas in Pyjamas references aside, I certainly am thinking that B1 is going to be a bit more of a challenge!


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