A lot of times I post about something new I’m doing but then I don’t follow up. So, here’s my mid-year check-in on my Master’s.
I could write another post like this one but I didn’t take notes of all of the incidents because I was busy working and school-ing last semester. Good thing I’m not paid to do this!
Basically, I felt quite lost, and things continued to be disorganized and n’importe-quoi up until present day. Ignored requests for a letter excusing me from the English class led me to give up and start attending. It’s one of my favorite courses now, so it worked out in the end. I spent all of last semester visiting the Bureau des Stages, trying to convince them to accept my authorization form even though I hadn’t received a certain form from la Sécu (government health insurance), then a few weeks ago I learned that our department decided that we were all covered as students and we didn’t need to deal with this form anymore. Another thing that ended with a passing grade but almost caused me to have a heart attack was the discovery in the five minutes before a final exam started that there was a textbook that I had no idea existed. Seriously. That’s how lost I was at the beginning of the semester.
Another thing I find very strange and different is the fact that we have a class delegate who meets frequently with our professors and relays us all information by email concerning class schedule, homework, and exams. It’s so weird that this position exists. Our delegate does a great job and is super organized, but it frustrates me that we are discouraged from communicating directly with our professors and instead are encouraged to go through her for any questions. Getting information secondhand is not ideal!
As for the actual classes, things were all over the place in terms of course organization, content, grading system, and exams. I’m used to my wonderful, expensive undergrad education, where they held summits to determine how each class would advance an individual student in his chosen major. There was intra- and inter-departmental communication, so the professors would plan their courses to work in tandem with each other. It allowed for a deeper understanding of concepts by coming at them from different angles in the same semester.
I’m not finding the same situation here. To be fair, this is a different country and liberal arts education is a modern American concept. The Sorbonne, founded in 1257, has a traditional approach to education. Certainly there are advantages to such history, but as Music Business is a very modern and global field the Sorbonne needs to remain competitive. Given that it’s a French institution, change is coming, but at a snail’s pace. It’s evident that the directors of my current program are making an effort to keep it competitive and relevant; they just revamped it this year and made lots of changes.
In early December we had a meeting with the program advisor to ask questions and learn about the process for the M2 (2nd year of degree). We were informed that there are only 15 spots for the 2nd year of the Master’s. There are 22 of us in the M1…so at the end of this semester when I do the concours it is literally going to be a competition to continue. This is a detail I would have loved to know before starting, but of course just getting information about the M1 was impossible.
Despite my grievances, I’m continuing on and attempting to finish the year! If anything, it’s a major personal growth opportunity and an exercise in patience. And it’s one big French lesson – most of my classes are in French. Plus, I got a student job in the choir and orchestra department. I’m proud to have made it this far and I’m looking forward to the second semester.