Back to school …

Prisoner cell block Patio

… or ‘la rentrée’ if you prefer, is upon us. We, like all normalised French residents, have spent the past two months en vacances. In essence this means we have sent our kids away at every opportunity – so that we can enjoy some peace and quiet at home. Three weeks out of the eight were spent with number one son at sports, arts or revision ‘stages’. Fortunately he enjoyed it all enormously – so we didn’t feel too guilty.

The rentrée is particularly curious for us this year, as I have signed up to do a Masters at the University of Strasbourg. My motivation is threefold:

  1. to improve my teaching skills for the benefit of my current students;
  2. to get a masters (because a man of my age needs one in France) and
  3. with a view to possibly taking the CAPES or Agrégation teaching for a future career teaching English in the public sector.

So I shall be going “back to school” too, albeit almost twenty years since I was last at one.

Thus far it has tested my mettle as far as deciphering the printed ramblings of an educational establishment in French. Clair comme la boue. However it has been fun finding my way around the University Campus for the first time. A place that I have cycled around/through/past for six years without any notion of what goes on inside the collection of bunkers and edifices that sit either side of Rue René Descartes.

I will be spending most of my time in a monstrosity known as the ‘Patio’, what was Marc Bloch University before the merger in 2009. It is made up of five buildings soullessly crafted from concrete and glass and is such a confusing maze that it has been deemed necessary to add pointy-arrows on the floor to each department and lecture theatre – so as to stop students going astray on their way to classes. The downstairs cafeteria has all the charm of a prison canteen and, oddly, contains three photocopiers – one assumes for entertainment purposes. I have found the library but it doesn’t open until Monday when there will probably be a rush for all the books listed in the course guide.

All in all it’s very exciting becoming a student again. What I have yet to come to terms with however, is that it’s probably not going to be like last time – as the novelty of being away from my parents has long worn off. Sex, drugs and music will probably feature less in my weekly timetable this time around.  I may even spend much of it (gulp) studying.

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