An Ode to My First Year at University

Here I am, on the final stretch of what is my first year at university. First off, the first semester took forever… the second one just flew by. I really don’t know where the time went there.

I have one last final, May 10th.

I don’t know how to feel about this first year. It is overwhelming to think it is almost over, but that doesn’t mean I am out of the clear yet. Last semester, I was able to pass with a slightly higher average than I needed, and I feel like I did pretty decently this semester, but again – grading in France is completely different. Also, teachers can be pretty strict… Even if I was paying attention at all the stuff they were telling me to get better at, I sometimes didn’t arrive at doing well and how they expected. Example: “Make sure you pay attention at defining the words in the subject Veronica.” So I would pay attention to that, and my next grade was the same or slightly higher… with a little note from the professor saying, “I see you are trying!” I would begin to think if my French was the reason… maybe the definitions I was giving were too bland, and too direct. French students agree that the way papers are graded here are strict, and that writing papers should be considered an art by all the small things they ask for. I actually have been told that the information in my paper was great, but I had TOO MUCH. What?? The French system is based off of a 20 point system, and getting a 10 on a paper is regarded as good (the first time I got that I was disappointed. To me that was an F! Here, it is what you need to pass the class). Getting more than a 14/15 (which would be the equivalent of an A in the states) is practically impossible for a paper.

Apart from that, this first year has taught me a lot and I have met a lot of amazing people. I had some great teachers who made it interesting and motivating to go to class. Recently, the Sorbonne had their end of the year gala, which I did not know was a thing. I hashtagged it #frenchprom on my Instagram, Fred and his friends called it Bal des Sardines in a reference to the French version of Back to the Future (not yet totally sure how, but that was what was explained to me). Here are a few pics from the event:

The ceiling of the venue where the gala took place
Walking the “red carpet” at the event
Cheers to our first year!

In another event that came up at a different university, Université-Diderot / Paris VII, I met some girls that asked me to partake in their exhibit on Americans living in Paris. The opening was yesterday, and it was fun to see other people’s stories and I got to meet Elliott Murphy, a musician based in Paris.

My story on display

I don’t know what is going to happen this semester. But whatever comes, I will accept. My first year at university has been difficult, with lots of ups and especially lots of downs, but I met so many people who made that experience so much easier and were willing to help me in any way I needed. People say the French are cold, I think they are just formal… But once they accept you, they can be pretty loyal as friends.

Good luck to anyone passing their finals, and to my friends graduating this semester!



You can follow more of Veronica: 


Instagram: @kikalavil

Twitter: @kikalavil

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s