I didn’t post anything yesterday, because I didn’t do anything! I stayed in that morning unpacking, then in the afternoon walked a few kilometers to the nearest E.Leclerc (a supermarket) to pick up some things. Sadly, the peanut butter was also too expensive. What does a student have to do to get some cheap peanut butter? I may head out on a peanut butter quest tomorrow… any ideas where to look? Oh, and there was some excitement last night when we had a powercut! Not entirely sure what happened but last night at 11-ish as I was going to bed, the light suddenly went off. I could hear people pottering out into the corridor and trying to figure out what happened. Looking out the window, it looked like the other floors lost power too – but the stairwell was still lit up, strangely. The electricity came back on about 20 minutes later, and business continued as usual. None of the other buildings in the ares seemed affected, so I guess it was just ours.
So, first day of uni! We had an amphithéâtre de présentation this morning at 9:30. I got up at 8, meaning to head out at quarter to 9, but ended up leaving at 10 past… I still got there in plenty of time, despite having to wait 5 minutes for the tram. When I got there, there was a lot of people milling or standing around, all equally clueless as to what to do. After a few minutes waiting, everyone headed into the ‘amphi’, where the professor was setting up his microphone. There must have been a deaf or hearing-impaired student in the room as there was a sign language interpreter, who was fascinating to watch! I sat with a girl who I had briefly met while signing up back in July, so it was nice to have at least one person I vaguely recognised!
The presentation lasted just over an hour, and I learned some interesting stuff. One interesting, or rather annoying, thing is that we’re only allowed Casio FX-92 calculators – very basic collège level ones during exams. Using any other would be considered as cheating and the punishments include exclusion from the university. This costs €15,90 at the FNAC, so that’s another annoying expense, if I do get one.
While this is rather annoying, it is understandable. I think I remember my physics teacher from last year saying something about this. During the bac, depending on the sujet (meaning ‘exam papers’ – not to be confused with matière, meaning’ subject’) we were or were not allowed calculators, but until nearly the last minute we weren’t sure if we’d be allowed calculators at all, as it’s easy, and common practice, to download or program either the entire year’s lessons, or just various formulas on to them. I did this, as it helped to be able to check an equation or unit without having to dig out the specific lesson mentioning it. The downside (or upside, depending on how you look at it) is that this made it even easier to cheat during tests when calculators allowed. Some professors got round this by not allowing calculators – although this penalised the students who wouldn’t have cheated anyway, and made any long calculations (such as those often used in the Transformation nucléaires part of the curriculum) or – or by supplying the formulas or equations needed, so as to level the playing field between those who used the formulas on their calculators, and those who did not – although this meant students were less likely to learn the equations properly. Some teachers and students also argued that programming and using the calculators wasn’t cheating, just making use of new technology.
Whereas calculators are allowed during the bac (again, depending on the exact sujets distributed), any device capable of containing notes were forbidden, so no-one was sure what would happen. Calculators were definitely the bac organisers archnemesis this year, as mobile phones had been last year. This year, during the school year and for the bac, there had been a right crackdown on phones, so I imagine there’ll be stricter regulations, such as maybe allowing only one type of calculator as this uni does.
Also interestingly, any absences during the end of term exams are penalised by a zero in that subject, even if the absence is justified with a justificatif médicale. So if you’ve got the flu, broken your neck, or had any other unpleasant accident befall you – too bad! This does seem a bit strange, as even for the bac they were catch-up sessions de ratrappage.
The class division was quite complicated: I’m in MI100B31. The MI stands for MISMI (‘Mathématiques, Informatique, Sciences de la matière et Ingenierie’), which is my série. There’s about 120 students in each série, the other being SVTE (‘Sciences de la Vie, de la Terre, et de l’Environnement’). The ‘100’ represents my semester – S1, the B my série – but I thought that’s what MISMI was? I’m lost! Anyway, the 3 stands for my groupe (there’s four or five) and the last 1 stands for my demi-groupe, which is for the TPs (Travaux Pratiques).
For this semester, I don’t need any books! Instead we’re asked to buy polycopiés, for €7.50. Of course, as soon as we left the lecture hall, everyone rushed either to the boards to find out which class they’re in, or to line up to buy the polycopiés. I waited in line with my new friend for a while, but seeing as the queue was massive and we wouldn’t be through for at least half an hour or longer, I went to check what class I was in and then headed home. I came back and got the papers an hour later. I had a quick look through but I’ll read through them properly this weekend, although they’re mainly just exercises.
It was quite hot today – easily in the 30s, and I may have accidentally slept all afternoon, so I didn’t get much else done today. Mum’s currently nagging (well, not really!) to post this before they go to bed, so I’ll write the rest tomorrow.
P.S. Anyone feel like sending this poor student some peanut butter? Or a fridge? Or a microwave? 😉