By Barry Yang

Exiting from Brexit

This past week on Thursday I took my first final exam in the country of France. The exam was for my Brexit class which only lasted for five weeks (technically four because the teacher canceled class the first week). As I mentioned in my previous blog, the class itself is quite different from classes at UCLA. The professor is much more opinionated, and there is an air of bias that I feel should be reduced in an academic setting. The exam was two hours long and composed of five short answer essay-style questions. The questions alluded to a primary document from the British government outlining its plan for the official execution of Brexit, and we were suppose to incorporate the document in our answers. The nature of the exam, much like the class, was quite different from the ones I am accustomed to at UCLA. The professor’s questions were incredibly broad. While essay questions demand a degree of flexibility to allow students to propose diverse ideas and information, the questions we received were too broad that I struggled to establish a structure for my answers. The questions were also very opinionated in that they were inherently pro-remain. The questions did not really inspire a great amount of debate or analysis. They were more asking us to recount information than to make an argument. After the test, all of us UC kids discussed the exam and many of us shared the same thoughts. It will be interesting to see how the professor grades the exam. The class is incredibly diverse and composed of kids from various countries with various levels of English. It will be interesting to see how the Professor distinguishes the quality of someone’s answer from the quality of his or her English. This class was by far the shortest class I have ever attended. Although it was interesting to learn about Brexit in an academic setting and from a native British individual, I wish the class was longer and that the professor presented some information on the other side that went beyond what has been already talked about somewhat thoroughly in popular media. I am excited to see what my other classes’ finals will be like given that they are semester long classes unlike the Brexit one.

Metros on Metros

Living in Los Angeles and San Diego all my childhood, I have not experienced true public transportation. Although buses and now the metro-link exist in Los Angeles, both of these pale in comparison to the public transit in Lyon and even just Europe. Lyon’s public transit is run by the company TCL. TCL has four subway lines, four tramway lines, and over one hundred bus lines. You can essentially get anywhere in the city with the public transit system. I use to only take two tramways because those were the only ones I knew and I really did not want to deviate, get lost, and be an hour late to class. However, after I got the TCL iPhone application my life completely changed. The app outlines the quickest modes of transportation for you at the time and ensures that you will arrive at your destination by a time you specify. It is also advisable to get a TCL metro card which is about thirty euros a month for students but allows you unlimited rides. A normal ticket costs 1.8 euros and lasts only an hour from the time of first scan. However, many Lyon locals do not even buy a ticket when they are traveling one or two stops because ticket enforcement is incredibly lax. This may soon change though; my host brother just informed me that TCL has employed undercover agents and will be more strict on enforcement.

Antsy for Annecy

The city of Annecy appears on essentially every list when you look up “best small towns in France.” The town is situated by a huge lake as well as the Rhone-Alps. There’s also a river that runs straight through the center of town and quaint old buildings are built around it. When we visited Annecy, we got there on a Friday which just happened to be a market day. We got to try some very local food and was stuffed for about 10 euros a person. We had some potatoes and cheese with baguette, smoked ham, traditional French sausage, local baguette sandwich, as well as a good amount of fresh ice cream (yes all for 10 euros). This trip to Annecy was also the first time we used BlaBlaCar (a European ride sharing service). We usually opt for busses with Ouibus or Flixbus when traveling to locations close to Lyon because tickets are only around 10 euros. However, this time, BlaBlaCar worked out to be a better deal and more suiting for our schedule. While the ride was not horrible, I definitely would not recommend sitting in a standard French car for more than a hour. Firstly, the cars here just physically feel smaller than American cars. The drivers also try and pack as many people as legal possible into said small cars so one can kiss goodbye to leg room or shoulder room. Driving in France also feels more reckless and dangerous than in the US (this may be a biased opinion though considering I do not understand French driving laws). Even though the ride is not all that great, BlaBlaCar is still an amazing budget-friendly way to travel and allows you to meet some French locals and really drive through the French countryside familyesque style.