Monday, June 20, 2011

Le Baccalauréat

French exams are really hard!!!

The front of the high school, looking up, this was on my right.
This morning, at 8:00am, I arrived at school like any other normal school day. 
Looking down from the entrance to the high school, this was on my left.
Normally I get to school at a quarter to eight, to be there on time and to have a little time to chat with my friends before the bell rings.  Then when the bell rings, I complain a little about having to climb the 3 story hill to get into the high school and then the huge staircase that leads to the main hall, and then, depending where I have first class, I have to climb even more stairs!!

The staircase!
Also, just to let you know, the French school system is nothing like the American system, I did a whole school project ( a six month thing for the BAC ) on this exact subject.
I can go into more detail on that later if you want.  If you ever want any more information on France, what life is like, the food, the people, the government, the weather I don't know, just anything you want, feel free to comment on my blog posts and ask any questions that you want, if there is anything you guys don't understand, tell me!!  I am here to share my experience with you and I LOVE talking, so ask away ;)

In France, at the end of Junior and Senior year there are exams that are all part of the Baccalauréat, or BAC.  So, everything that we learn in class is to pass the BAC, I mean everything, the methods and how to write an essay, how to analyze certain documents.  We learn it all so that we can pass the BAC at the end of the year.  The BAC is to get into college, if you don't have your BAC or if you bomb it, you have to stay back a year, and retake it.  There is not too much you can do after high school if you are French and don't have the BAC.  I mean there are many different kinds of BACs, but it is not the same exam for everyone. For the different tracks in general high schools it is S (scientific), ES (economics and social) and L (litterary), and they all have different exams for the BAC.

Some of the exams are the same, for example today I took the BAC de Français (French written language) and it was the same for the S and ES tracks everywhere in France.

To pass the BAC at the end of the year, the students get out about a week before their exams to study on their own.  That means that my last day of school was June 14th, and my exam was today, on the 22nd and on July 4th.  So I stopped going to school a week ago but I still had to work and study hard during the week that followed.

My friend and I in the entrance
In this case, I think that I am allowed to say that I prefer the American system over the French system, because for the last ten years of my life, when school lets out, well, school lets out, that means that it is summer, I can relax, no more school for three months!! But here it was more like, last day of school that means that I have to study like crazy for the next two weeks until my exams are done! I geuss it's kind of like college, but I liked it in my American high school, because we had our final exams the two days before the last day of school, so it was two days of exams, and then school was out!!

I had to come back to the high school today to take the exam.  Plus, it was a four hour exam! I barely finished on time!  I was like, of course I'll have more than enough time to read carefully the texts and answer the short question ( a good paragraph or two) and then the essay (six pages!!).

Two friends and I outside
The other students started finishing around 10:45-11:00 and I was like, oh my gosh!! I am still not done with my draft! When I was half way done with my final copy, I looked around me and there were 5 people left. I was the last person to finish, by a good five minutes, but the teachers who were supervising us were really nice and talked to me after about the exam and the fact that I am American.  I had to finish writing so fast that I had a really bad hand cramp after, it even hurts to be typing this fast!!

I am just glad that it is over and now I have to get to studying for the next exam, it is science this time on Wednesday, at least it is only an hour and a half :) we have the same signs in the USA?
Well, I hope you have enjoyed reading about the great adventures that I have had in the French school system this year.  I could put up a whole blog post just on the French system.  It is really interesting, and very different from the American system, that is without a doubt ;)
Well, until next time, and I cannot believe that I will be home in three weeks!!

Friday, June 3, 2011


Yesterday was a no-school day in France and all over Europe, so Adélie, Benoit and I decided to go to Geneva.  At first we wanted to go kayaking on the lake, but it was cold and gray out so instead we took a self guided tour of the city.  Benoit and Adélie took me around and showed me a "reform" museum, the UN and plenty of watch stores.

A watch store, English translation: Pretigious watches
They also took me to see the theatre, which was very pretty and we walked a lot around the city, and we crossed the bridge at least four times, on different bridges too!  It was a very nice outing, and I am glad that I was able to finally see Geneva.  A couple of weeks ago we went to visit a medieval town in France called Yvoire, which is on lake Geneva, so we got to see the city from a distance, but it was great to really visit it.

The UN building
A church
What was funny was that we weren't stopped at the border, I was so confused.  I didn't even realize that we were not in France anymore, there must have been a sign or something, but I was just looking out the window and Benoit starts talking about Geneva.  I was like, "Wow, that was quick I can't believe that we are already in Geneva!"  I seriously had no idea. 

The leaning tree in Geneva
Why does time go by so fast?
English: I do not make the sidewalks dirty

I have been in France for nine months and two days!!  And I am leaving on July 9th from Bonneville and taking the plane to JFK NY on July 10th.  I would have never thought that these kinds of thoughts would come so fast, time is not supposed to go this fast, come on!!

It is not fair that time has passed so quickly because it is now that I realize that, of course, I should have really looked around me and seen how beautiful this experience really is.  I know, I know, I still have a month left to take advantage of all of the opportunities given to me, and I have already taken some time to sit back and soak in every second of this very different life.  I am so happy to be here and I cannot even imagine my life now without the relationships that I have built over this past year.

Get ready for a new Frenchified (I don't think that that is even a word!!) Vicki!