Time Off at the Sorbonne...

Clearly occupied in class...
One month into my second year of the masters program at the Sorbonne Nouvelle and we’ve already had one week of vacation and two long holiday weekends.  Still, professors haven’t hesitated from taking much needed time away from the grueling pace of French education.  Can we chalk this up to a cultural difference?

Thursday my three classmates and I were sitting patiently in room 449 waiting for our linguistics professor who had already cancelled one class the week before in addition to failing to attend the second class – with no warning.  Class was to start at 3PM.  The four of us discussed our thesis projects and talked about our iPhones while fiddling with text messages and emails.

Ten minutes passed and the professor was still not there.

We continued waiting, while we talked about our various backgrounds.  One French girl moving to Turkey next year.  One Chinese girl who’s been around the world.  One half French half Italian student who dresses like every day is a Marc Jacobs show.

Twenty minutes passed.  No professor.

 I ventured to the department to see if the professor was coming or not.  I knocked.  No answer.  I called the desk, hearing the phone ring inside.  No answer.  I ran back upstairs.

“He likes Americans, you write him an email,” the French girl told me.  After five more minutes of arguing over which words to use and how properly to address a professor in writing, we hammered out an email asking if class was going to happen in the future and to let the professor know that cancelling class three out of four times was semi-unprofessional, or at least unappreciated.  We pushed send.

Thirty-five minutes later, we departed, wishing each other a good weekend.

Killing time instead of learning...
Far from upset, I was glad to have the extra time to talk with my classmates, even if I wasn’t receiving the academic education I was gunning for.  A cultural one would do.  I tried to ration it out; imaging the professor was on some linguistic venture in the Outback, fighting off kangaroos while trying to research a lost aboriginal dialect. 

He thought I was Australian, after all, clearly an expert in the field of language.

When the 3PM class was canceled, again, I tried not to take it to hard.  This is still the Sorbonne, a world renowned institution of higher education that strives to educate students in the ever-changing realm of communications studies and practices by hiring the most professional and expert players in the field.

At 4:53PM, an email came from the communication department’s secretary.  “We’re just reminding you that your professor is absent today, so there won’t be class at 3PM.”

Yup, experts.