My first day as a “French American” student was a pretty interesting one. “Interesting” is the least that can be said about my first class here. Let me explain to you.
As I entered in the class, the first thing I saw was those rows of supertiny chairs. Am I gonna fit in those? That’s what I first wondered. Indeed back home we don’t have individual tables like these but big ones for two students. The chairs are bigger too. Anyway, I finally chose one at the back. I sat down and it was actually not too bad. But let’s move on to the most interesting part … the actual class.
Start of the class:
The class was a Mass Communication one, which means one related to my major here. As any first class, I expected the teacher to introduce herself, talk about the material, the grades scale, the class requirements, her expectations etc. Yet, it was completely different to what I thought it would be. Indeed, the teacher started putting pictures of her and her family on the computer screen. She introduced us to her husband as well as her children saying a few words about each of them. She mentionned her religion as well. I couldn’t believe it. In France, none of the professors talk about their family the first day of class. They introduce themselves quickly and then deal with the class material. Mentionning your religion is something you don’t do either back home. In fact, you don’t talk about religion at all in French public schools. Nobody is supposed to know if you are Catholic, muslim, Jewish …That’s why I was quite surprise. However, what came next was the icing on the cake for me in terms of surprise …
One right answer, one candy:
After this unexpected introduction, the teacher talked a bit about the class material etc. She read over the syllabus and explained the basics requirements of the class. This part was actually what I had expected. But then, she decided to start the material by a “little game” as she said. She was putting music video clips on the screen and the game consisted in guessing from which year the video clip was. The purpose of the whole exercise was to study the evolution of video clips. It was quite funny but it got even funnier when the teacher opened her bag and took out a big pack of candies: mars, twix, kitkat and any kinds of chocolate bars. Every time someone got a right answer, she was throwing a candy as a reward. I remembered catching a pack of m&m’s after I got one right. The whole situation was so unreal for me. When I think about it now, I am sure I looked like an alien that day among the other american students. Yet, with hindsight, this experience was definitely one of the funniest I had in the US, or at least in the US classrooms.