Can it really be nearly four months since I’ve moved back to Amiens? Is it really minus 2 degrees Celsius outside? Am I really starting to think in Celsius?
I suppose you could say it’s the beginning of the end. After all, today is the end of the world, according to the Aztec (or was it Mayan?) calendar. I’m starting to think in weird English constructions, such as “arrived to the seashore” or “he has the same age as me.” The French is leaking into my very pores, creating a weird hybrid American-European. Soon I will no longer be able to speak English or French like a native speaker… I keep wanting to shout “la relation predicative est présentée à l’interlocuteur comme définitivement acquise, non suspectible d’être remise en question,” but then I know that people will think I am really bizarre, even French people. It must be an effect of too much studying and not enough time sleeping.
I am now done with the first round of exams for my first semester of my Master’s. Normally exams take place after the Christmas holidays, but as my research-based Master’s overlaps with the teaching-focused Master’s (the one I should have signed up for if I knew what I was doing upon arriving), we are mostly graded in the form of contrôle continu, that is to say, various small exams or oral presentations both during and at the end of the semester, instead of one final exam. Moreover, the teaching-based Master students are all doing a two-week practicum during the “official” exam session in January, when I myself will be taking two more exams on theoretical approaches to research.
I really do feel like I have finished the first round in a boxing ring. After months of attending classes, preparing each week’s translation, and bustling to and from the university, I finally had a string of graded exams and presentations all in a row. First I had my two cc exams for translation, one for which I still don’t know the grade and the other a complete disaster (in translating from English to French I got a 4/20, which I consider to be the equivalent of an F–). I then gave an oral presentation about the prologue to John Dos Passos’s USA trilogy, all in English, in a very strict form of literary commentary. The teacher really liked what I had done and would have given me a 16-18/20, but alas… I’m only auditing this class (it’s a class specific to the teaching-focused Master’s and thus won’t factor into my grade, although it will give me an idea of what to prepare for the CAPES in June). This week, it was intense: two translation exams back to back on very complex vocabularly (would you know how to translate terms like “shoreleave” “tour of duty” or “cooing babytalk at someone” in another language, or recognize the word for “dragonfly” and “sheepfold”?) Tuesday evening, I had a two-hour exam in which I had identify the invariants (basic unchanging definition) of all the modal verbs in the English language (shall, will, should, would, can, may, could, might, do, must) and correctly translate them in context (I keep failing to identify the “resultatives” – i.e., when you express two sentences in one, in ending with a result. He wiped the blade clean, being the equivalent of “He wiped the blade” and “The blade became clean” – you’d think it’d be easy as a native speaker to analyze my own language, but I simply speak it without bothering to question why…). Finally, this morning, I had to write a commentary on the idea of translating “accurately” and “faithfully” as well as the difference between this and that (a lot more complicated than it appears!) and the differences in meaning between the imparfait (in French) and the BE + V-ing form in English. These types of classes definitely make you question your own language as much as the foreign one.
On another note, Amiens is absolutely gorgeous at this time of year…
There are lights up everywhere, as well as the Marché de Noël (an annual Christmas market that takes up the whole shopping district right near where I live), which will continue until January 1, 2013.
Next up: Round two (aka as a series of long essays in English and French about various literary/ linguistic topics as well as an outline of my thesis on Harry Potter…