Yesterday was an interesting day. I think days here will be interesting for quite a while. If you have gone through or are going through the university system in the US you know that when you register for courses you usually do so weeks, if not months, in advance, and you do so online. At UNCA we have advising sessions with our chosen advisor, and then we sign up on a designated day. Easy peasy.
Here it is not. Maybe it's a little different for French students, but I get the impression that, no, it's not all that different. You see, you look up courses online, which I did last semester as I had to pre-approve my courses with UNCA. Come to find out, the courses that were listen online last semester may or may not be given this semester. The ones listed online at this moment may or may not be given this semester. The ones that are offered this semester may not be correctly listed online, and even if they are listed, the hours, dates, and classrooms are not found online without much blood, sweat, and tears. Oh, and you don't even have to sign up for courses until mid-March, so you can fool around and go to different courses to see which ones you like. Thanks to the brilliant international program here, international students who are already confused and bewildered don't figure out which courses they will be taking until after the first course has already been given in most cases. And many courses here are only given once a week or once every two weeks, so in my mind missing the first course is downright horrifying. But when I express concern about this, the people in the international studies office just smile a knowing smile and say that it's really not that important to go to the first class. I hope they're right.
Looking at my schedule, I have soooo much time on my hands. Most weeks I only have one or two classes. Some weeks I have three. That's right: one or two classes in all in a week. I signed up for as many as my French professor told me to, so I don't want to sign up for too many. And I am aware that since most of my classes are literature classes, I'll have a good deal of reading to do, which will take up plenty of time. But I can't help but feel anxious at how different the system is here. Thanks to a really nice Italian exchange student I was able to figure out my course schedule (I had to go to the university secretary to do so), and I've found that when you ask someone for help they're quite obliging and friendly. In short, I'm getting used to being clueless and feeling embarrassed. I'm also overcoming my perfectionist tendencies. There is no place for it in France.