First day at school: (Language) learning curve

The first day at school was, again, long and eventful. In the morning before my first class, I wrote on The New Federalist about the Bucharest Summer Retreat and did some other follow-up work, as well as shopping for household essentials with Skylar. There definitely exist cheaper places for basic grocery shopping than the area around Boulevard Saint-Germain, and these include central Edinburgh. I hope my wallet will survive!

Juuso taking a selfie in Bucharest
Here’s an unrelated selfie from Bucharest from Sunday.

At school today, I had two classes in French: one on French politics and another on French-German relations, particularly concerning European integration. In Paris, classes are 120 minutes, which is an increase from Edinburgh’s 50 minutes. In other regards, too, it seems like in Sciences Po more is expected of you: the reading lists are longer, and at least the EU-related course seems to be going somewhat deep academically. In a month I’ll be doing a 10-minute oral presentation in French about the role of Helmut Kohl and François Mitterrand in the Single European Act and in the creation of a single European currency. I’m looking forward to learning more about the topic, but “wish me luck” is still my first thought!

Since the classes were in French, I felt nervous about the language. At the start of the first class, I in fact felt a slight adrenaline rush simply because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to follow. It turns out that I understood most of what was said (though not everything), which is positive. What I also found comforting was that there were many other international and exchange students in the room for both classes, so there were other people in the same boat. Some had lived in France or in another French-speaking country, or otherwise spoke French very well, but there also were other ‘broken French’ people like me in the room. When I spoke, I may have seemed a tiny bit stupider than I really am, but I managed.

Today has involved lots of writing: beside the article in the morning, and the blog post about Friday, I also wrote an article about the Treaty Ciao video by JEF Maastricht, the September Call for Articles for The New Federalist, and now I’m writing this post. That has been more than 3,000 words in just published text, to which you add all the other things I’ve typed.

Writing is nice, and I like the feeling of typing on my laptop, but today it has caused pain since my laptop keyboard is in its death throes. Depending on the position the laptop is in, up to a half of the keys don’t work. The x key never works, the z one works rarely, and sometimes t and y also fail. At worst, the apostrophe, enter and full stop are out as well. The mouse-controlled keyboard is help for emergency moments, but the keyboard issue has a real bearing on my life quality. In the afternoon I went to write on the school computers in the library, but that didn’t make matters much simpler as the AZERTY keyboard wasn’t for me, especially not when it was on a Mac. Again, though, I managed!

It will probably be a tough year school-wise, but it will also be interesting to get pushed a bit academically. I need to say that tomorrow when I’m going into an English-language class I will likely feel a bit relieved!

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