|l'Institut Catholique de Paris (ICP) |
Hi there!! Seeing as how this week I start my classes at l'Institut Catholique de Paris (ICP) I thought it would be a good idea to dedicate this post to giving an overview of the french university system-or at least the way it works in Paris. So far-ITS BEEN STRESSFUL!Here are some things I already knew before I got here:
-in the states we receive a B.A. in 4 yrs whereas the French version of a B.A. is called a License
that takes only 3 yrs to recieve
-universities in Paris or France are MUCH
cheaper than the ones in the states
-classes dont meet as frequently as in the states but they are longer-you will have one class that meets only monday but that class may last three hours
-they do not have as much daily homework and have less grades for a course - so each grade is weighted heavier than in the states
-relationships between teachers and students are much more formal
-classes typically have both a CM
(cours magistral) and a TD
(travail dirigé) - a CM is just the lecture course and the TD is the discussion or participation demanded part of the course
-the application process to french universities is much simpler (get good scores on your BAC [their version of the SATs] and you will be fine)
-universities in Paris do not have campuses-no dorms
-no meal plans either -however there are cheap student cafeterias or restaurants
-textbook expenses are much lower than in the states
Now here's what I did not know and found out
:- les Grandes Ecoles and the universities or facs- what's the difference?:
*most universities in Paris are also referred to as facs ( the two terms are used interchangeably), the most well known of these universities is the Sorbonne, however, beyond these universities there exists a seperate group of universities known as les Grandes Ecoles. These are much more specialized institutions of higher education in which the application process is much more competitive. Les grandes ecoles are held to a different level completly than the rest of the universities in Paris.-Condition of Paris Universities:
*Before I set foot in any university in Paris, I imagined that the interior of the universities would not be that much different from that of the universities in the states- relatively modernized, with a 21st century aesthetic, white boards, computers in every room, projectors, etc. My thought was this: I am going be attending a university in Paris- Paris, one the most cosmopolitan developed citites in the world along with London, New York ,etc-so the universities should be in about the same shape as what I am used to. Well not necessarily...
I do not mean to harp on about aesthetics, I mean being a student what is most important of course is the quality of education I am receiving, but this was honestly something that shocked me. La Sorbonne was the first university I went into and my what I saw there was about the same for the other universities thourghout the city. When I walk into the classrooms in this universities you get the sense you've traveled back in time to the early 90's or maybe even late 80's: the hallways are lined with bulletin boards posting the classes, exam scores, class times, classes availble. Not every classroom has a projector, but almost definitly a chalk board, the desks are old, and there are typically no computers in the classrooms -so bring your own if you have a presentation.
Granted, there are some differences from university to univeristy of course - the Sorbonne, because of its recognition, and ICP, because of its recognition and luxury of being a private univeristy, are a bit more "modernized" than the rest. However, in any case this was just something that surprised me being that these are
universities in Paris. I assume this is because the universities are funded by the government and there system is entirely different than ours.-Signing up for courses:
*I'm in the middle of my first week at ICP and so far so good (fingers crossed)! Eventhough I have already started my semester here my schedule is not set in stone. At ICP, and most other universties in Paris, students do not enroll online. Furthermore, while the classes for the semester are available to view online, the times are most often not. Which means you have to go to the hallways of the department you are planning to take classes in and find the time for the class you want to take amidst the mess of papers on the board. (the next steps are how students attending ICP must do it) Once you have decided which courses you want to take you should have two week to attend and try out the courses you are considering before you decide to submit the appropriate paperwork, known in france as the pedogigal step, saying these are the courses you will be taking this semester. The pedogical step involves getting enrolled in classes either with the department secretary or directly with the professor by having them sign the appropriate form. While ICP gives its students two weeks to commit to their courses, the pedogical approach is the traditional french university system of enrolling in courses in is common in almost all universities.-Credits:
*The most imortant thing to consider as a student studying abroad at a French university is ensuring that you are taking the necessary amount of credits - in my case I need at least 12 to be a full time student. Well the equivalent of credits in French universities are ECTSs, European Credit Transfer System. (They use this system since exchanges under the ERASMUS program -student exchange throughout Europe- are really common) The total number of ETSs a course has varies depending on the number of hours that course meets for a week. It is important to note that courses at french universities, like ICP for example, meet once or twice a week at most, and that the number hours is determined by the total number of hours spent in the CM and TD portion of the course. So, for example if you are taking a literature course that only meets once a week with one hour spent in CM and one hour spent in TD that's a total of two ECTS! So it's important to double check because those two hours spent in class will only total to two U.S. credits, the general rule is 1 North American credit = 1 hour in class, so don't necessarily bank on taking only 4 classes and getting your 12 credits worth - not all classes are created equal!
Note that if you are studying abroad under MICEFA you can take courses at least 1 course with MICEFA throughout the course of the semester and these are guaranteed to be 3 credits.
So as of right now I am signed up for one course with MICEFA, on the waiting list for another MICEFA course, and spending my days on the ICP campus this week trying out each course on my list and am set on making up my mind by the end of this week.-Les toilettes mixtes:
*yes, when you go to these universities in Paris do not be surprised if you have to use a toilette mixte aka: mixed gender bathroom. DO NOT BE SURPRISED if you walk by a urinal on your way to the stall. haha!
So so far I'm not doing bad -just working out my schedule. The professors I've had so far have not been as terrible as I have imagined and very sweet. I will post soon enough on the reasons why I chose ICP over the other universities in Paris soon enough. Bon soir!