Here at ESC-Rennes students, those not in the masters program at least, get a week off the last week of October. Most students are using this time to visit family around Europe or go see places they haven’t seen before. I will be visiting the museums and parks around Rennes. Now that I have my student card, I will be able to get into most of them for much cheaper than before. Rennes is a small city, compared to Paris, but has many different museums to choose from. I will first be looking at the musee des beaux arts and the Parliament building. There are a number of gardens around the Parliament building, and according to my French language professor the best bakery in town. I haven’t been able to go visit many places thus far, and mostly it is due to a lot of work that I have had to get done for school.
European Geopolitics is a very interesting course here at ESC-Rennes, however the teacher is a no-games kind of professor. He laid out strict rules in the beginning of the semester of no electronic devices unless being used for notes. Already he has kicked three people out of his class for good from both sections of the course for failing to adhere to this rule. He runs his class as if it were a boardroom and grants everyone the respect that is expected of a boardroom. Unfortunately for me, I knew very little about the actual running of the European Union so I have had to read a lot more than most of the students simply to be on an even playing field when it comes to class. We are lucky as students to have the professor that we do though, considering that he is actually active in one of the EU institutions and has been a politician for many years. We are able to hear first hand how things work versus how they were intended to work through the different treaties. Every comment or question that is posed must be well thought out and defended, it really keeps you on your toes.
French culture is taught by a very kind and odd man. We are learning about the history of the French people from a first hand perspective. We have covered everything from the French Revolution and the ideals established then to the number of waves of immigration into France that has shaped its people. We are starting to get into the education system now and it is a very different method than most students are accustomed to. Public universities are very cheap and there is no criteria for admittance aside from having your BAC, basically a comprehensive general studies test given at the end of high school age in America. If you pass it within a certain percentile then you are free to be admitted to any public university in France. When you go to school, you also only pay around Euro 200 for a semester of study. There are other types of institutions as well, more prestigious ones. A vast majority of the politicians and CEOs in France have come from just two schools. They are called Top Schools, and once you graduate from one of the top Top Schools your career trajectory is all but assured. I couldn’t imagine something like that being in place in the US.
Most of the international students here are on ERASMUS programs. In many cases, they get paid to study at foreign universities. It is a program established in European Union countries, I think, to aid students studying in different countries. Maybe one day the US will be on board with that program to make it much easier for students to study abroad. Currently there are only 4 or 5 Americans in my program at ESC-Rennes, I’m not sure if that is from lack of advertising or a lack of appeal to the lesser known cities in France, but I’m sure that if there were a program like ERASMUS many more Americans would study abroad in Europe. As the world becomes more and more connected through the internet, high speed trains, faster and cheaper flights it will be imperative to have experiences abroad in the future generations.
I’ll try to take a few pictures of the museums and gardens while I am out and about this week and update you on them next time.