Inside Paris: Part 4

Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page


Ellen Lavelle became a Young Journalist during her time at The Priory Academy LSST. Since then, she’s finished her A-levels and completed a second year at the University of Warwick, studying English and Creative Writing. Ellen’s currently in Paris, studying at Paris-Sorbonne IV for a year. This series of articles provides a useful insight into what it’s like to live and study in a foreign capital.


Click to read earlier articles in the series:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


 Studying at the Sorbonne


Last week, one of my professors entered the lecture hall with a huge plastic bag.

“It’s winter,” he said. “So we need pommes.” He then reached into the bag and withdrew an apple, which he placed on the desk in front of the girl closest to him. He made his way around the room in this fashion, placing apples on the desk in front of each student, before taking his place at the front of the room and beginning the lecture. The lecture was about The Colonial Era in America. It had nothing to do with apples.

This is what it is like, studying at the Sorbonne. I have no idea what is going on. At any moment.

2In the third week, we had a fire drill interrupt one of our lessons. You would be forgiven for not knowing, however, as the alarm was about as loud as someone’s phone vibrating in their pocket, in a room on the other side of the building. A man actually had to knock on the door of the classroom to tell us that the fire alarm was going off. So then we all filed out into the corridor, in the opposite direction to where all the fire escape signs were pointing.

“This way!” a woman yelled. I followed the woman.

One girl wasn’t following the woman. She had headphones on, and was pushing against the tide of people, obviously oblivious to the fact that the alarm had sounded. It only registered in my brain after she had passed me.

She did survive – I saw her later.

We followed the woman downstairs and outside, to where everyone clustered in the middle of the main road. Apparently fire safety points don’t exist. People just stand in the middle of the road. I ate my Belvita breakfast biscuits quietly, using the human barricade around me to protect me from the traffic.

Apparently there are exams at the end of the semester, but I don’t think I have to do them. According to my coordinator at Warwick, I can submit an essay instead. According to one of my course tutors, I do have to do the exam and should rearrange my eurostar tickets to allow me to travel back to Paris for two-hours, before returning to England for the remainder of the month. I think I’ll be writing an essay.

Another of my tutors misunderstood the course syllabus and so has taught us the wrong material.

The backdrop for all these cock-ups is spectacular. The lecture halls are filled with 18th century murals and baroque architecture. Unfortunately, the cock-ups are still-cock ups and I have no idea if I should be panicking about things or not. At the moment, I’m smothering the stress under a fat-blanket of cheese, bread and galettes (savoury pancakes).