This week was my first week of actual classes. Unlike those of you in the United States, I did not get Monday off because it was not Labor Day in France. Classes here are once a week for 3 hours with a half hour break in the middle, and either take place from 09:00 to 12:00, 13:00 to 16:00, or 16:30 to 19:30. My French class is an exception because it starts at 08:30 and ends at 11:30. Since French does not start until next week, my first class of the semester was International Contract Law (and people say that business majors never take hard classes)! My professor for this class was the only one who would allow us to use our computers at all during the lecture portion of the class. Most classes are formatted so that the first half of the class is a lecture, and during the second half you either do group work or discussions. In addition to French and International Contract Law, I am also taking Marketing: Communications, Management: People and Organizations, and International Marketing.
I have class from 08:30-19:30 on Mondays, no classes Tuesday or Wednesday (hooray, travel days!), and class from 09:00- 12:00 on Thursdays and Fridays.
Attendance is a much bigger deal here than it is in the United States. All of the teachers will take attendance every class, and some teachers will not even let you into class if you are late. You are also only allowed 2 absences throughout the semester, or 1 if it is a half-semester course. Grades are also based on a lot less things. In some classes your whole grade could be based on your final exam. Most of my classes are graded based as follows: 25% group project, 25% midterm, and 50% final exam.
Campus is very small here, and all of the buildings are connected by a walkway on the second floor which makes it much easier to get around, but was a little bit confusing at first. The main hub for students on campus is the Atrium, which is two floors, but otherwise is basically like a high school cafeteria. There is a ‘cafe’ which mostly just serves coffee, and there is a place where you can buy lunch, but only if you put money on your student ID card.
Security is still a huge deal in France because of the Paris attacks last year and the Bastille Day attacks this summer. In Paris you will see a lot of armed police officers, especially around major landmarks and in metro stations. This heightened security is even evident at ESSEC. When you get to campus, some days they do bag checks and make sure you have your student ID before letting you in the building.
On Monday night, my friend Ariel and I discovered that neither of us had class on Wednesday, so we should take a (day)trip. In under 2 hours it we had decided on Mont Saint Michel in Normandie, France and had booked train tickets to get there. We got up at 5am on Wednesday so that we could catch the RER into Paris, and the metro to the train station. Observation: Train/metro stations in Paris are huge! We walked for over 10 minutes (including on moving walkways) and we never left the station.
We had booked our tickets online, but we were supposed to print them at a machine when we got to the station. We found the machine no problem, but when we tried to get the machine to work, it kept giving us an error message. Thankfully there was a ticket counter, but unfortunately, there was no one behind the desk even though its hours said it opened nearly and hour before.