Thursday, September 17, 2009

Introductions and a free dinner

Today was day one of graduate orientation—in other words, a short session in which we were introduced to all of the staff members that really mattered, had a lot of papers thrust at us, and were forced to (nervously, in my case) talk about ourselves for a few minutes in French in front of our future classmates and profs, etc. I also had the opportunity to get a concrete sense of how much reading I’m going to be doing this year. The picture is the “library” of books that the lit students are expected to know and be tested on (there are a few multiple copies in there, but not many). Merde.

I will be taking two courses through NYU—Assia Djebar’s francophone lit class and a grammar/semantics course, and then two through the French University system. I’m going to investigate whether or not I can somehow squeeze an Arabic class in there, too, because my Arabic is disappearing at an alarming rate. I feel pretty good about the group of graduate students—it’s certainly an accomplished, well-travelled group, most of whom are older than me, but everyone seems friendly and my French falls somewhere in the middle. After the session I got a café with one of the other lit students, a girl named Laura, who I’m in total awe of. She has been living in France for the last four years (since she graduated) with the French boyfriend she made on her undergraduate study abroad, and in the meantime has worked a little and earned a Women’s Studies MA. She’s now picking up a second MA on her way to a PhD through NYU. She wrote her thesis on Hèlène Cixous (a French feminist that I cited in my SMP) and is overall a very down-to-earth, unassuming feminist bookworm intellectual. Both she and the program director have made me a little wary of meeting Assia Djebar (the Algerian writer that featured prominently in my SMP who I will now have as a teacher)—she’s apparently very stubborn and particular, to put it nicely. I have to admit, I found it a little odd that she wasn’t at our session today. On the other hand, she’s an accomplished writer, a sort of a feminist refugee and an old lady…I suppose she’s entitled to be a bit persnickety. Here’s hoping that even if we don’t get along her bitchiness doesn’t ruin her books for me.

Dragged two girls from the program and a random German girl who lives two doors down from me to the opposite side of the city tonight for dinner. We ended up in a rather colorful Arab neighborhood not far from Gare du Nord, but we each scored a free platter of authentic North African couscous for the price of a Stella Artois (2 euro!). The deal definitely warranted the travel time, and apparently this place is only one of several that does a similar couscous promotion once a week. I sense a pilgrimage in the making.

Off to Giverny tomorrow morning for a weekend orientation retreat! Back on Sunday evening with photos, information, and hopefully some new friends...

No comments:

Post a Comment