A Day in the Life
"Un jour dans la vie bisontine"
by Malissa Kent, Knox College
7 a.m. -- As my cell phone rings I’m reminded why I never take first-hour classes at Knox! Luckily I only have one 8 a.m. class once a week. You’re in the dorms now, after a month family stay, which means that you can take as long as you want in your personal shower (which makes up for its smallness). If you’re particularly motivated this morning you can heat up some milk or water for hot chocolate or tea in the communal kitchen; otherwise it’s just fruit juice with your fresh baguette and nutella.
7:45 a.m. -- Catch the bus to go to the CLA for morning classes. It takes about 15 minutes to get downtown from the campus, and the bus stops right in front of the CLA. If there’s traffic and you’re a few minutes late, no one notices; the professors are often 10 minutes late themselves!
11 a.m. -- Get done with the three-hour block of oral and written French classes. Each class is 90 minutes long, and the energy of the oral professor along with the humor and culture of the written professor, makes the time fly by! Not to mention the walk around the world that each class turns into, as you learn about your classmates from Nepal, China, Japan, Switzerland, Chad, Senegal, Spain, Venezuela, Australia…
11:15 a.m. -- Walk through downtown to buy a baguette at your favorite bakery, then go back to the Bouloie residential campus to make lunch: a salad with caramelized apples and boudin blanc(a type of blood sausage), a regional dish from Normandie you learned from your host family.
1:45 p.m. -- Head back into town, this time to the heart of downtown and the Faculté des Lettres for a class about Victor Hugo’s Notre Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame in English). The class is half French students and half American and Erasmus (the European exchange network), which makes it a great place to make new friends.
4 p.m. -- The benefit of starting the day early is that you’re done by 4. Once a week you end classes at 6, but you also have Wednesday afternoon free, and, like nearly everyone else you know, you have three-day weekends. If it’s sunny out you’ll walk around the boucle, or buckle, that the river Doubs forms around downtown, admiring the many views of the Citadelle, or go to one of the city’s many parks. If it’s raining you can go shopping downtown, or sit at one of the many cafésfor a coffee, hot chocolate, or glass of wine. No matter what you do, don’t forget to look up; ceiling and buildings facades are incredibly decorated in France!
6 p.m. -- Go back to the Bouloie to catch up with the other Knox students and get a bit of homework done. That goes quickly, since in France you spend more time in the classroom than the US, which means less homework. Surf the internet on your laptop, since the computer lab at the CLA has a strict half-hour limit -- not nearly enough time to keep everyone back home up-to-date!
7:30 p.m. -- Go to your host family’s house for your weekly dinner. I’m lucky, and my family lives right around the corner from the Bouloie. We chat about our weeks over the aperitif of punch, peanuts and crackers, and then eat a traditional French dinner. This week it’s grated carrots to start, then a Tartiflette, the specialty of the Franche-Comté, with potatoes, onions, sausage, cream and Roblechon cheese. After there’s the cheese plate, and then dessert, (which can range from yogurt or fruit to ice cream or delicious French pastries). And, since your host family knows that you enjoy learning all aspects of French culture, there’s a regional wine to go with it all. After dinner you sit down to watch a movie with them -- most the time it’s a French movie, since they like to initiate you in classic French cinema, but every once in a while they throw in an American one.
11:30 p.m. -- You get back to the Bouloie a bit late to go out, even if it is Thursday, the biggest night for students to go out together, as the last bus runs at midnight. But there’s the whole weekend to discover the many student-friendly restaurants, discos and clubs, not to mention the movie theaters, theatres, museums, galleries and concerts!
-- Malissa Kent, Creative Writing and French major, Lake Stevens, Washington