Saturday, June 19, 2010

Rachel tries to get into grad school; stomach ulcers ensue

Nothing to do with anything, but look how cute my new sac is. I got it for cheap because it's really a bike bag. The snaps clip on your handlebars! I don't care about this or the fact that French people keep giving me weird looks. They're jealous they didn't find it for 19€.

So my Thursday. Totally consecrated to tests and interviews. I got there at 9am, after studying all Wednesday with this book :

I was all ready with all kinds of phrases like:

Quant à cet auteur (according to this author)
Certes, ____ admet que l'on peut (indeed, ____ admits that we can/it can be)
Il est indéniablement lié à (it is undeniably linked to)
______, contestant que _____, souligne l'importance (____, contesting/agreeing that___, highlights the importance)

FUN! Except that when I got there, this is what I was presented with:

I knew I was going to have to write a synthesis, but I did not expect it to be all in Spanish! At worst, I thought the documents would be in Spanish and I'd write the synthesis in French, but not so...

It's not that my Spanish is that bad, it's just that I'm missing more vocabulary. I had no trouble understanding the documents. It's just that a synthesis is not supposed to use the words that are already in the articles, so it was kind of hard regurgitating the same idea using different words. My final text--383 palabras, gracias--probably looked like something a 14-year-old would write. Ah, well. I tried, damnit!

Okay, so the worst part, so I thought, over. I had two hours to hang out, so where do you go when you need to sit down and pass time? The library, of course! The university, Université Paris 8, is a little rough around the edges--it's in the same department I work in, if that gives you any indication. But it has a fabulous library that's only 10ish years old and it was big and quiet and had lots of Spanish books I wanted to steal, but instead just took pictures of to buy at a future point (when I'm not so damn basically never). Studied some media vocabulary that I thought would be useful for my interview at 2pm. To be honest, I did not study enough Spanish. I had intended on going through questions I thought might be asked, and preparing answers in Spanish. Memorization, I can do. But I was too caught up in 1) working 2) working 3) defending myself from often evil and violent children 3) working 4) studying for synthesis that ended up being in the wrong language 5) sleeping. I did go through what I was going to say, and took lots of notes, but I didn't have enough time to do it really well.

So I get there at 2pm, well let's be honest, it's 2:10 because I had to get a panini and hunger pangs are not that attractive in interviews. Just for the record, I DID order the panini before 2pm, but the panini man was taking forever and a day, and what was I going to do? LEAVE MY PANINI? No. That's ridiculous. So I run to the interview, panini in hand, looking a hot mess, just SCREAMING serious, professional 25-year-old American that wants to be here, really!

Three men are chatting, two of them old and obviously the smartest men that have ever existed in France judging by the way they act, one young, beyond attractive, that will distract me in the interview. Damnit.

But onward. I present myself, and there's a mix-up about how I was supposed to be there in the morning, but no, I explain, I was told it was okay since I was taking the synthesis..blah blah blah we go to another room across the way, walk around for a minute, then come back to the same exact room we started in, while Dr. Attractive whispers "Welcome to France," half-laughing, in accentless English.

Okay. So to condense this 15-minute painful interview, let's just say that my Spanish was not up to par. And can I just add that being in a lecture hall, in the front row, while three men 10 feet away are taking notes about me is intimidating, to say the least. Oh, and did I forget to mention the part where they are all perfectly trilingual? The main man speaking in Spanish has a difficult accent. I don't know where he studied, but it's a thick Spanish accent that I have trouble understanding. And also, I'm not gonna lie, I am in no way fluent in Spanish. Anyway, after five minutes of "what the F is this girl doing applying to a Spanish/French program," they switch to French, and then later English, so at least the linguistic problems are no longer a worry. BUT. The questions. Hard, real questions about theory and the role of media today, and if there will ever be a non-biased media, and have you read this certain author from the 1970s (no), or studied this certain theory (also, no) and my favorite: How will you cope with the added stress of not being at the same level as the other students that have studied theory, in addition to all the reading that is already in the program?

First of all, vague. Second of all, ouch. Make my degree(s) seem like merde because excuuuuse me, we did not spend as much time with theory, but they didn't spend as much time hands-on! What can I say to that about the theories? Sit in a library for 4 hours a day and read? That I'm motivated and want to be here?

I know that I didn't learn all these obscure communication theories, but maybe that's because my degree was in journalism, not communications! Anyway, I stop there to defend myself for a minute because the two schools of teaching--in the US and in France--are not the same. Not that one is necessarily better than the other one, but still. I have no doubt that my mastery of software and hands-on experience is better than some French students'. And does the fact that I have a double major, a minor, 18 months abroad, and worked 30 hours a week for five years mean anything? Mmmmm no. But I try to be charming, saying "I really like this program, it's very unique and I've never seen anything like it, even in the US."

And I'm going to break here for a minute, so you can conjure up your most stereotypical Frenchman caricature in your head, especially thinking about the word POMPOUS and then imagine the two old men saying:

"Well [pause for dismissal "hah," like how dare you even say this] that's because, Mademoiselle, it doesn't exist anywhere else. We know it's unique because we created it."

Okkkkayyyyyyyy then.

I kiss ass once more: "Well, thank you so much, gentlemen, for your time. I hope to hear from you soon."

I walk out, almost in tears just from the stress, but also kind of relieved that hey, it's over. I am sure that I didn't get into either, even the English ones, because hello! I am apparently lacking theory!!

On the upside, the panini in my sac is still warm, the sun is out, and the sunset later that evening is magnificent.

I checked my e-mail yesterday morning while waiting for my bus to take me back to Paris:


Nous avons le plaisir de vous informer que votre candidature à l’entrée dans le Master 1 Médias internationaux : Culture et société étrangères (MC2L) anglais, a été retenue.

Nous avons le plaisir de vous informer que votre candidature au Master "Médias Internationaux : enjeux et pratiques", première année a été acceptée.

Rachel, we have the pleasure of informing you that your candidature for the Master 1: International Media: Culture and Foreign Societies (English) was accepted.

We have the pleasure of informing you that your candidature for the Master: International Media: Issues and Practices, first year, was accepted.

[To clarify: the programs are similar but have two different tracks, one more cultural and language-centered (1), one more journalism/media focused (2) Also, the 2nd one did not specify a language but I sincerely doubt that it's Spanish]

I've been smiling since yesterday. I DID IT!!!!

1 comment:

  1. I still cant get over how awesome that is!! Two programs. To use a cliche 90's phrase to sum it up: you go girl!! Haha. Also, two updates in one week. You're gonna spoil us. ;)