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EXAMS ARE OVER & Courses at the IIEF

by Zander Willoughby | Dec 16, 2016

Exams are finally over and we’re free for holiday breaks! My first semester studying in Strasbourg, France at the Université de Strasbourg has come to to an end. I’d like to take today’s post to talk about the courses I got to take this semester, a sampling of what courses students from Manchester have the opportunity to take while studying in Strasbourg. As a whole, I loved my classes at the IIEF (see previous post for that explanation)! The goal of most of the IIEF option courses is to give insight and understanding into French culture and society, therefore, they’re all pretty easy. This gives a great opportunity to travel, go to more culture events, get a job, and/or work on the ICRP project for the programme (Lewis & Clark College France).

In order to get the language diploma, which I highly advise, I don’t see any valid reason not to, one must take Société Socle (French Society), Société Actualité (French Current Events), & Phonétique (Phonetics), three ‘option courses’ (more to come), and the general language block courses. American and Canadian students can take more than three if they’d like and they also don’t have to be in our language level.  For example, I ended up taking six option courses, two of which were C1 level (I’m at B2, there’s an explanation of this in the IIEF post). I’d like to give a brief description of each of the courses I took to give you an idea of the courses one could take while studying in Strasbourg:

Société Socle & Société Actuelle

French Society & French Current Affairs

These two can go together since they were right after one another in the same room. Société Socle, or French society, was an overview of French society. Though it was a bit dry, it was all really good information to have. We talked about the Political System, Medical System, the French Language, and the Francophone world. The course on the medical system came in really handy one day, I suggest that students going abroad know the system/know what to do if they need a doctor, and that’s all we need to say about that (just take heed). SS was especially helpful with dinner time conversations with my host family. It gave me a better context to be able to talk to my host family about things they actually care about. Société Actuelle, French current events, was also very helpful in this regard; we talked about, shockingly, French current events and the cultural context needed to understand them. This class was a lot more fun, we talked about food and French chefs, political affairs, sports, cultural events and festivals, etc.

Histoire du Film Documentaire  Français

History of French Documentaries
Though I was lost 90 % of the time because artistic film is definitely not my forte, I enjoyed this course. Each week, we watched an early francophone documentary. Since the French take the claim to have invented film (NOTE: this is contested. However, the Frères Lumière gave the first paid public screening on 28 December, 1895 in Paris. So, we can give them that one. I digress.), it was really interested to see the evolution. We didn’t only watch French documentaries, some were made in Canada, Russia, Ghana, and Belgium by French speakers.

Littérature Thématique

Thematic Literature (That was a tough translation, eh?)
Oh, boy. I must admit, this class was not my favourite, but I can see how others would enjoy this one. We read excerpts from French literature from medieval times to the 20th century and studied the evolution of the term ‘Hero.’

Le Français des Sciences

The French of Sciences (It’s not always this easy, I promise)
Unsurprisingly, we learned the French words for science-y stuff. We learned about easier stuff like rocks and weather, but then also Psych and Chemistry terms. I’d especially recommend this class for science students who are considering continuing their studies in France. The prof was super nice and usually started class off by suggesting science-y events going on in town/on campus.

Le Français du Monde du Travail

The French of the World of Business/Work

This course taught the words one would need both to get a job in France or to go into business in the francophone world. This was one of those course that I didn’t find to be super exciting, but I can see how important to someone going into this field it could be. Especially since most language students pair their degree with another field of study, courses such as this one can help prepare them for their other degrees. The professor also speaks SUPER fast, so it’s good practise too.

Institutions Politiques Françaises

French Political Institutions
This was one of the C1 options. We learned about the Fifth French Republic and the history of liberal democratic institutions. The French political student is somewhere on the spectrum between a presidential system like the U.S. and a parliamentary system like in the U.K. The point on that spectrum depends on who you ask. It was super interesting to learn about the similarities and differences between the French and the American systems. It was also great to hear the French perspective on philosophers like Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau in the context of liberal democratic institutions. This class was always great, except the day that the prof asked me to explain the Electoral College to a room full of students from around the world…

Relations Internationales; Une Approche  Juridique

International Relations; a Legal Approach
This was my absolute favourite class this semester! My biggest goal for this semester was to get accepted to SciencesPo Strasbourg (Political Science Institute, French Grande Ecole, etc.) in order to take Public International Law courses. This course was a great introduction to the basics of international law. It was especially interesting to me to here international law taught from a French perspective vs the American perspective one would here in the United States. Even for non-political science students, I would highly recommend this course, aside from being really good French practice, I think it gave a lot of great insights into the French culture and mentality.

ZanderWilloughby
Zander E. Willoughby ’18 is a Political Science & French major & Peace Studies minor, and a former Multicultural Affairs Programmer, Student Senate Vice-President, Model U.N. Secretary-General and more. He is currently studying in Strasbourg, France at the Institut d'Études Politiques at Université de Strasbourg. His future plans include working in International Relations or International Law, hopefully within the U.N. system.

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