Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Modified Rapture

You may be wondering "Why did David choose today to revive Whipping Cats, when he has already been back in Paris since September 6th?". Or you may find the title of this post a little puzzling. Bear with me, gentle reader, and everything will be made clear.

It's true that I have been back in Paris for almost a fortnight. But since this trip is supposed to be all about "Whipping Cats goes to the Sorbonne", I was holding off until today to do the inaugural post, as today is when registration opened for the winter semester at the Sorbonne. I think switching to a Q and A format may be helpful at this stage.

Was I there, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, with the necessary documents all ready in my hot little hand?
You bet I was.

Did my worry that a Ph.D. from UNC Chapel Hill might not prove to be adequate evidence of "the equivalent of the French Bac, or high school diploma" in the eyes of the French bureaucracy turn out to be unfounded?
Thankfully, yes it did.

Did I actually complete the registration process today?
Well no, not exactly, because that turns out to be a 3-step process, see.

Did I at least complete Step 1?
Yes, indeed; with the advice of the very helpful academic counselor I was able to zero in on an "appropriate" (but see below) choice of courses to take. This means I was given a little appointment slip to proceed to Step 2, which will be to show up on Friday at 15:00 with all relevant documents and - vitally - my VISA card, all ready for swiping, with the tuition amount pre-approved by the card-issuing bank. To be quite fair, I was given the option of proceeding to Step 2 this afternoon, but chose not to do so, because I wanted to think about the choice of courses some more before making a final decision.

Will "Step 2", on Friday, take care of things definitively?
Not in the least. Upon satisfactory completion of Step 2, I will be allowed to proceed to the final step, and given an appointment for a language placement test (to determine my level) to take place "some day next week". Eventually, once all applicants have gone through this final step, class groups will be formed and schedules assigned

Was this multi-step process annoying?
Not particularly. It actually seems pretty reasonable, and it was explained very clearly. The people I dealt with today could not have been more helpful, and they were very accommodating about trying to find a followup appointment time that worked for me. Basically, everything today went as smoothly as could reasonably be expected.

Well then, you bastard, why is this post titled "Modified Rapture" and not "Hurrah, I got in!!!" or something equally celebratory?
An excellent question -- glad you asked. It's because that conversation with the academic adviser left me feeling, frankly, underwhelmed. The warning signs were there from about five sentences in when she drew back, looked at me broodingly and said, in a slightly accusatory tone. "You're level C1. We almost never get students at your level. I worry that this course may not be challenging enough for you". She then rallied and corrected herself, but essentially kept circling around that same theme. When, at the end of our session, she concluded by looking me meaningfully in the eyes and reminding me that I didn't have to sign up for the full 12-week semester, there was always the option of the cheaper, abbreviated 8-week semester, she might just as well have said it straight out : "Save your money, bud!"

So I have some food for thought between now and Friday afternoon.

Dammit! All I want is somewhere to hang out 20 hours a week where people will talk French with me at my level and challenge my mind on a regular basis. Is that too much to ask for?


  1. I don't know if it's too much to ask for but I do hope you get it! I must also say it's nice to see you on here. I like the Q and A format, I feel as if I can hear your voice reading it.

  2. Thanks, KT! I'm feeling more optimistic about things today, and am going to go ahead and sign up tomorrow. Different location, different setup, different teachers, a new group of classmates -- I'm bound to learn something!