School is in full swing now that we are in week four of the semester!! After three weeks of trying out many, many classes, I feel like I have finally solidified a schedule for myself.  As I mentioned before, it is so important to attend a section for any class you just might be interested in taking while you are here.  It can be really difficult to find a professor you feel comfortable understanding and communicating with.  And, of course, you should try to take advantage of the course offerings available in France that would be hard to find back at UCLA! 

All students at Bordeaux Montaigne (the humanities campus) had to enroll in classes by the Friday of the second week of school.  Because I was not at all confident in my class choices by that date, Joëlle from the California office recommended that I just enroll in all of the classes I am potentially interested in taking.  So, with her guidance I enrolled in the four classes I was sure I wanted to take: gastronomy, methodology (the required course for French track students here with UCEAP), French journalism, and medieval art history.  In addition, I enrolled in antique history, history of modern France, and earth systems, a course in the geography department.  

I had no problem enrolling in these seven courses, as they didn’t enforce any type of unit cap for the international students.  Throughout weeks three and four, I attended each of the three classes I was interested in potentially taking, and eventually I chose to take the course on earth systems.  I was finding, as a biology major, that I was missing the courses on the environment that I was used to taking back home at UCLA, and so the earth systems class ended up being a perfect fit for me.  As an added bonus, I’m hoping to be able to use this course for my major back home.  I have found that the professors in the geography department tend to teach by drawing diagrams and flowcharts on the blackboard, instead of using traditional PowerPoints or simply talking at the class (which unfortunately many of the history professors here tend to do).  This has made learning the material actually much easier for me, so if you’re more of a visual learner I would highly recommend checking out some classes in the geography department!  

In order to drop the other two history classes I was trying out, all I had to do was go to the international student office and notify them of which classes I no longer wanted to take.  It only took five minutes, so if you find yourself unsure of what you want to take at Bordeaux Montaigne by the end of the second week of school, I would just recommend enrolling in a few courses you still want to try and just dropping a few later.  

As far am my other courses go, I am loving them!  Our gastronomy class is going to go on a fieldtrip to an outdoor market and a winery together in November, and in just a few weeks our professor is going to host a cooking session for us where she will teach us to cook some French classics!   

My class on French journalism is also wonderful, and its giving me a great reason to go pick up a French newspaper in the mornings.  Since the journalism class is instructed at the DEFLE (the department for French for foreigners), there are students from all over the world in it.  I’ve been really liking getting to know the other students, and discussing the news with such diverse perspectives is so interesting.  

My medieval art course is a full immersion class with only French students, so that one has probably been the most difficult at this point.  I have learned that just writing down anything I think I hear the professor say has been the best way to take notes, even if my spelling is a little off.  I’ve been going back and retyping my notes on my computer after every class, and I just research the parts that I had trouble understanding.  This has actually been a great way for me to prepare for all of the upcoming lectures, as it reinforces the vocabulary.   

My first exams are coming up in week six, so for now I am just trying to stay on top of all of the information! I have some fun day trips coming up, so I cannot wait to share those with you!  À bientôt! 

Natasha Szombathy studied abroad in Bordeaux, France in 2017: