I hope that your first two weeks or so of classes have been going well and that you have settled into a somewhat familiar pattern. Since the last time I wrote, I have officially completed my first week at EPF Graduate School of Engineering, Embry-Riddle’s partner school for dual engineering degrees.
I was relieved to discover that the schedule given to me during orientation was of all possible classes for third year students. Once I simplified my schedule and was assigned to lab and exercise groups, my weekly planner was not too complex. So far, on any given day, I have a maximum of about three classes and a lunch break of about an hour and half. Since I am a dual degree student, I do not have to take all of the same classes as the other third year students due to either different course requirements or because I have already taken the equivalent at ERAU. This means that some days, I only have one class or I do not have class at all. Granted, the class periods are much longer than at ERAU. Most classes are about two hours long with labs being about four. Regardless of the length of the class, for every two hours of class, there is about a fifteen minute break. Sometime the break is longer if the professor is late or loses track of time. I think that once my other specialized classes are added to my class schedule, my days will fill up a bit more. In the meanwhile, I am enjoying the extra free time on the weekdays. However, I have class on Saturday mornings and for one or two evenings each week, which stinks a bit.
One aspect of the system at EPF that is quite nice is that professors do not usually assign much homework, if any at all. Even though I do not have any official homework, the nerdy perfectionist in me insists on going through the day’s notes and looking up words and concepts that are unfamiliar. Since my classes are lecture based, I do not have to speak and stumble over unfamiliar words. Instead, I just listen and take notes off of the black board or the overhead projector. Surprisingly, I do not have too many problems in class understanding the professor. A lot of the technical vocabulary used is either exactly same as the word in English, or it is very similar. The only times I have a bit of trouble is when the professor has an unfamiliar accent or terrible handwriting. Since I do not know all of the words well enough to place them in context, I usually just spell the word to the best of my ability (phonetically) or I take a peek at my neighbor’s notes.
The other students at EPF are quite understanding of my situation and are willing to help me. Just in the past week, I have received a tour of one of the three sites of the campus, have had a very patient lab partner, and have been given clarification during a lecture from my peers. In addition, I have had multiple people tell me that if I ever have any trouble understanding anything, I can just ask them and that they will help me to the best of their ability. Their kindness is very inspiring. For example, during my first lab, I was initially by myself and trying to translate the directions. But then, a fellow student, named Manon, asked if she could join me. She didn’t have to work with me, there were other computers open. I was a complete wild card. In general, during my classes are ERAU, the minute the professor instructs students to grab a partner, everyone heads for either someone they know or know to be a good worker. Manon didn’t know anything about me. She didn’t know if I understood what I was supposed to do or even if I was tech savvy. She took a chance and I think it went pretty well. We were able to complete our assignment in the allotted time and we were able to talk about our hometowns. It turns out, that Manon is from a small town near Dijon, which is about a three hour car drive from Paris.
Another really nice person I met this week is Laura. Laura is in the same year as me and we have the same lab and exercise groups. It’s pretty cool that I met her because she is one of the two main contenders for entry into the dual degree program. At EPF, French students take their fourth year at ERAU. Her English is pretty good and from what I can tell, she is pretty stoked about ERAU. If she gets into the dual degree program, she is sure to fit in well. (There are multiple pictures of her in NASA gear and standing next to jet engines) Laura is pretty funny and full of energy. She told me about BDS, a student run sports program that takes place every Thursday after classes. We have plans to try playing soccer this year. We are both out of practice and there aren’t too many girls who play. It should be a lot of fun. I think it is safe to say that I am most definitely looking forward to this next school year. I hope you are too.
Thank you for reading,