Wednesday, September 09, 2009

La Sorbonne - Part 1

The good news is that I have a million things to chat about, the bad news is, my camera and my computer are in the middle of a messy divorce and refuse to speak to each other. This post will be illustrated entirely with photos I have stolen from the interwebz.

A perhaps crazy, yet nice lady walks past the class building every morning. Yesterday she stopped as she passed by to say: ---“Oh you’re so beautiful. I always did love Black people.” I will leave the interpretation of that comment up to you my wise readers.


I am learning French, but I am also learning that the best way to meet crazy people in Paris is to take the bus. Last week, on the way home from class, a slightly wild-eyed Japanese man got on the bus with about 15 bags of god knows what. A few stops into our journey, he gets out of his seat, waits for the back doors of the bus to open, and then leisurely tosses out a bucket of noodles---nearly missing the immaculately coiffed women who had just gotten off to do some shopping on Rue Raspail.


And last but certainly not least, let us speak of La Sorbonne.


The first day of class we met in the amphitheatre Richelieu at the Sorbonne main campus building thing. Which in spite of its age is still quite beautiful, but also kind of creepy in an intangible way.

We meet our professor who informs us that our class will be starting—NOW, and that the quickest way to get to the class building is to take a “short cut”.

death march 3

She then proceeds to take us on a break-neck speed death march across Le Jardin de Luxembourg at 8:45 in the morning. We actually lapped the military soldiers as they did their morning run.

Once we arrived at the class building we were relieved, but this relief soon faded into despair when we discovered that our classroom was on the 6th floor of a very old walk up building which of course had no elevator. The stairs are so steep that on each narrow landing there is a chair and a phone for the eventuality that you will need to sit down and call an ambulance to come retrieve your ass when you have your heart attack. On the way up I joked with the Japanese girl behind me that this was worse than hiking up Mount Fuji. She started to laugh, and then nearly passed out from lack of oxygen.

My bad.

I should have recognized the death-march and the hiking expedition as foreshadowing of things to come. The first day of class we covered 300 years of French history in 2 hours then were assigned a 500 word essay. Since then, things have not let up for one second. The verb exercises are abusively endless, and homework assignments take hours to complete. Folks, I am treading water in a sea of irregular verbs.


The professor is good. Damn good. She’s serious and she means business---and I’m not just using that as an expression. She supplements her meager teacher’s salary by making you pay her 1 Euro every time she catches you speaking any language other than French. It’s either that or you can choose to take 40 lashes in front of the class. Most people just pay the euro, hence her endless assortment of perfectly-tied silk neck scarves.


By the by, I’m having a blast.

Paris is great and my classmates are great. They are just as overwhelmed and confused as me, but seem not to care one bit. They go out to nightclubs every night and come into class late and unprepared and they just have a good time. Part of that might have something to do with the fact that they’re all young college-aged kids, Oh---did I mention that most of them are Brazilian?


Not only am I learning French, but I’m learning some Portuguese by osmosis.

So, that about brings you up to speed. Class at the Sorbonne part #1.

OK, I have to go now because I have to learn to use relative pronouns, and then quickly memorize how to conjugate every French verb in existence in the Present Indicative tense by tomorrow morning at 9AM.



Cynthia said...

Sounds like fun! I might have to look into this class for next year!

Canedolia said...

This post cracked me up! Keep having fun and bon courage for all those verbs!

'Drea said...

:o, Steep stairs. I love cardio that takes your breath away and I always appreciated no-nonsense teachers. Okay, not while I was enduring it...

Continue to enjoy your learning adventure.

Anonymous said...

Bon courage! Make sure you don't personally pay for the teacher's next Hermes scarf.

Rissa said...

Wow everything sounds so fun. The good and the bad lol. But yeah I agree six flights of stairs is serious business. I had to trek it once with a bookbag that weighed more than me plus my laptop on my shoulder and books in my hands. Talk about a work out. lol

Shanster said...

Wow. My jaw is hanging open. What an adventure...painful mebbe but you will come out talking real purty.

Aaron Grunwald said...

At least she's not making you conjugate whilst running up and down those stairs!

ieishah said...

oh, those brazilian kids! had them in my spanish classes in barcelona in the beginning. never did homework, slept in class, and because portuguese and spanish are so similar, they'd just straight speak portugese... we called it 'portuñol'.

ValeriesWorld said...

Good luck with your lessons!

Team Jacob said...

You are too much lol

Mista Jaycee said...

Very Cool! Bonjour Mon Amie, Comment Allez Vous? Je Mapelle Jaycee ala Long Beach, California, Xuni Estates! Come by and sit a while.

A la plus tard!

Vakker Kvinne said...

I just ran into this blog and it made me think of you . . .not because you're flaky but because you live in France. Are folks really THAT flaky?