There are many boring things that we have to do in this world, but nothing is more boring than waiting at the GNIB to get a green card. Saturday I went to the GNIB for my appointment, and waited for about an hour until I was called. When they called my number, they looked at a few documents (that I finally was able to print), took my passport, and told me to sit down again and wait. About half an hour later they took me into the fingerprinting room, and I swear this country has more of my identification than the States do back home. They scanned both of my hands and then took each individual finger print. Then I got to wait for about another forty-five minutes until they printed my card. Finally legal, and absolutely starving, I met a friend for lunch, where for only €5 I got an entire pizza, serving of chips (fries) and a can of soda. I ate it all, plus the last piece of my friend’s pizza, and I am not ashamed in the least bit. It was great.
Then to top of an exciting Saturday night, we took the bus out to the Tesco Extra (which is like a Walmart). I don’t know if it was just reverse culture shock, but we walked in there and our jaws dropped. They had produce, grocery, clothes, toiletries, toys, kitchen equipment, electronics, and basically anything one could ever want, all in one store! Definitely going to have to go back for large grocery trips.
This week has been my first week of classes! It’s been such a crazy week, and it doesn’t help that my timetable was (is) incorrect at the moment. I was missing a few French modules so I went and found the French director and got everything sorted out. (At least I think; it is very hard to tell when problems are resolved here.) My lectures include maths (they don’t specify different kinds of math, but this module is basically calculus), programming, computing, linguistics, written French, and oral French. In addition to my lectures each module has a few hours of tutorials, and my science lectures have labs as well. I’m in school roughly from 9 in the morning until about 5 in the afternoon; sometimes I start and/or end later. I get a couple hours off during the day to eat and catch up on work. Lectures can be big, mine have about 150 students per lecture, but the tutorials and labs are much smaller. My French tutorials are seminar-based, and there are only about ten of us.
I’ve really enjoyed my modules so far. Since programs (majors) here are specific to the degree, the courses are already laid out for me, so I don’t have to take random electives or other classes (such as History or English) that don’t pertain to my major. Nothing has seemed too difficult so far, but it’s still only the first week. My most challenging module is probably going to be French, especially oral French, just because I have not had as much practice as my classmates. All the classes are taught completely in French, and one wouldn’t dare try to speak to the professor in English. Thankfully there are students of all levels in my classes, so I’m not the only one feeling behind! I really enjoy studying languages though, so I think I’ll catch up quickly.
Fortunately, my programming module is going to be very easy. We’re learning Java this year, and the teacher is starting from the very beginning. Since I already know how to program in Java, I can complete the assignments within minutes and then focus on studying something else or helping a classmate who is having trouble. In my computing module we are learning about the structure and functions of computers. So far we have talked about different microprocessors and how computers store data. My linguistics module is also very interesting and fun. The professor talks about the science of language and how our brains receive and interpret language. Each week focuses on a different topic, and next week we will be discussing how children acquire language and if it changes how their brains develop, how they perceive the world, etc.
Other than school, I have been keeping busy with hanging out with friends and taking care of the apartment. Cooking takes up a bunch of time, so sometimes my friends and I will take turns cooking for each other. The other night we were all missing some good Mexican food (sadly that is not a thing here), so we had taco night. They don’t sell refried beans either, so we bought the only thing they did sell, which was baked beans. Not the same, but at least the tacos weren’t too bad. 🙂
Tonight my French flatmate and I are probably going to have a French movie night, something we hope to do several times this year. She wants to show me her favorite movies, and I need to practice my French, so it works out perfectly. Good thing they do sell popcorn here! À bientôt!