Back to School in Paris: One More Time

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Back to School in Paris: One More Time

All ready for my first day of class!

It was the last time I’d ever receive this type of letter. After grammar school, there was the excitement of high school. Then letters arrived about college. Then an acceptance letter to a master’s program arrived. Then came the notification that I had been adopted by the Sorbonne as a PhD candidate.

Yesterday I received my last set of “certificate de scolarité,” renewing my enrollment for the 2014-2015 year – my final year – at the University of the Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris 3. This officially marked the end of my higher education in France, and probably in the world. There will be no more first days of school for me as a student after this October. My lunchbox would be retired, forever.

Well, at least that’s the most likely scenario. But this being France, who knows what hiccups I may encounter…

I might totally drop the ball on my thesis and have to take another year. I could go into the as-of-yet unexplained world of a post-doc (shudder). Or I could have to repeat my final year on some sort of administrative technicality, like forgetting to register for the class on Africans and Tarzan in 20th century film.

No wait, I took that seminar already. Silly me.

Maybe I should read...

It’s still a milestone. I have hurdled time and again the obstacles of French bureaucracy to register at the Sorbonne and secure a visa (since 2010, not too shabby). Now it’s all coming to a close. This time next year I’ll hopefully have a job, that thing my dad keeps asking me if I’ll ever get. And I might even be French, if all goes well. I’ll be Docteur Bryan with a PhD in information and communication science from the University of Paris. I’ll be able to heal all of your communications woes.

Let's just not get too far ahead of ourselves. In the meantime, I have one year of lesson plans to update in order to attempt to engage the French students at the Sorbonne Nouvelle. I have to wrap up some research for my thesis. And then I suppose I should write the thing.
A last bit of paperwork...

But before any of that, I’ve got to get ready for my last first day of school, so I packed and repacked my trousse (pencil case) like a good obsessive French student. 

I think I’m ready now.


  1. Well, you sound - as I did - like a "professional student," my dear Bryan. Nothing wrong with that. So many years after I graduated from a Parisian university, I am still learning and studying. Your specialty sounds promising, and you have certainly gotten ahead of the game by developing the other side of your life (you know, the stuff you do online when you are not in school...) -- Good for you. Just to make American - and expat - readers a bit envious, I am curious: How much are "les frais d'inscription" for a PhD at la Sorbonne Nouvelle these days? ;-) Happy last year of higher education! Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

    1. Thank you Veronique :) Oh yes, for the fees, it cost 396.10 euros this year to study at the Sorbonne Nouvelle -- less than usual! I didn't have to pay social security fees this year (about an extra 200 euros) since I have a work contract. A pretty price tag indeed!

  2. Hey Brian! I think being a communication student in french need a lot of competence in communication as oral and writing in french language. How do you manage this? Writing in my native language is already hard, i can't imagine writing an article in french. And.. Do you publish your article in french? Merci! :)

    1. Hi! You definitely need to learn French to do communications studies in France, but I studied for 8 years and worked for 2 years in France, so it was OK, but I don't think it's impossible if you have less experience. I was not a very good speaker when i started, but I got better over time. And I published my thesis in French, yes, but it was edited MANY times by native speakers.