Course loads: USA vs France

Julianna Johnson, 30/10/12Classes started for me in Strasbourg about a month ago and I am happily settling into a routine in France. I love being back in school again, however, I realized the other day that I have eleven classes. I guess I realized it before, but it just started to sink in. Eleven classes!

This may seem completely normal for those who have gone through all of their university years here in France, but to me it sounds like complete insanity!

While studying for my undergraduate degree in California, I usually liked to take the maximum number of units, 21. At  three units per class, it usually worked out that I would have around seven classes. And that was seen as very ambitious. There was always homework and my friends who would take around 15 units sometimes thought I was crazy. But I liked most of my classes and was never bored.

Julianna Johnson, 30/10/12

Though it may seem like a great difference between eleven classes and seven classes, there is another difference that puts it all in perspective: in California I was in class for more hours. In California we would go to each class two or three times per week. Monday, Wednesday and Friday classes were 50 minutes each, and Tuesday and Thursday classes were one and a half hours. This divided up the workload and gave us a good dose of each class each week.

However, in France each of my eleven classes is only held once a week or sometimes even once every two weeks. They are mostly one and a half hours long, but some are two or three hour classes. Therefore, though it seems like I have more hours of lecture by having eleven classes, it actually works out to be about the same, or even less.


Right when I am getting used to the idea that my French course load works out to about the same number of hours as I had in the States, vacation is here. I am learning that studying for these eleven classes is not  going to be at all like studying for the seven classes at home. Break will be spent reading and studying for the presentations and reports due when vacation is over next week. Vivent les vacances!!!

Image credits:
1. Students, via IFMA
2. Books, via The Guardian 
3. Notes, via Flickr

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Julianna Johnson

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