I had lofty ambitions of regaling you with weekly tales of my Sorbonne stories. But between daily grammar classes, 7:30am classes on writing and oral reinforcement, lunch periods spent in the phonetics lab, mornings spent reviewing previous days’ notes, nights spent studying for weekly tests – all those ambitious plans fell by the wayside very early into my semester. It is now over, and yesterday as I sat through the ‘graduation’ ceremony (all pomp and ceremony for a semester course, absolutely loved it!) with past luminaries of L’Académie française looking down on us from their hallowed vantage points in the cornices, it felt good to have risen to the challenge.
We were in good company – Founding father of La Sorbonne, Robert de Sorbonne, Richelieu, Pascal, Descartes, Lavoisier, Rollin ….
Would I repeat it again? Maybe, a very non-committal ‘maybe’. It was a grueling four months – mind you not my first semester, but one which took a lot more of out of me than previous ones. I may not be too keen to resort to the classroom learning again for the moment, but I am living the learning everyday.
In a recent conversation with the Gardienne (concierge) of our building, I learnt that she was not feeling well, and thus followed an exchange about her health that lasted about ten minutes – pretty much the same conversation I would have had with my mother or an elderly aunt about their health, but one that is only now possible with this dear lady because we can now communicate with ease, or maybe it is that after having lived in our current building for more than two years we have now surpassed that formal, reserved, arm’s length rapport and moved on to much warmer and neighbourly relations. And who said forging relationships is France was hard? Either way, the conversation went swimmingly well. I was still patting myself on the back as I took the elevator upstairs. It is when moments like these happen that I feel like the past four months have been well worth it.
Learning a new language is a funny thing. It is an evolutionary process, the benefits of which are not realised immediately, but can hit you unexpectedly, and when they do…génial!*. So now that the classroom learning is behind me, it’s the matter of speaking the language. A friend advised that I head out to our local Mairie and sign up for those social classes on offer: cooking, mahjong , sketching, yoga, pilates – all of which are on offer in French. Apparently nothing but full immersion will do to ensure I stay on course and keep improving. Suddenly the idea does not sound too daunting. I will keep you posted on how that pans out.
I have completed three semesters studying French and French Civilisation at the Sorbonne, and would highly recommend this course. It is for everyone – from the complete beginners, to those looking to read and crititique French literature. On offer are also profession-specific French courses i.e Law, Economics/Business and Medicine.
Cours de Civilisation Française de la Sorbonne
214 Boulevard Raspail
|Robert de Sorbon|
|And the entrance to the inner sanctum of the Grand Ampitheatre.|