The last week has been pretty eventful. Wednesday marked the commencement of my psychology classes at the Institut Catholique. I'm taking three courses: Developmental Psych, Clinical Psych and Psychopathology, and Social Psych. Clinical went pretty well - the professor read her notes (*gasp!* no powerpoint!?) out loud, but was always willing to speak slower or repeat the information. One complaint about the course material - France is obsessed with Freud. In America, psychologists don't really teach his material. My course here is based on the "Freudian" system of classification. Ugh. I really enjoyed my social and developmental classes - powerpoints! The students in the classes are very nice. It's perfectly normal to check each others' notes throughout class, and one girl let me download her files of the prerequisite first-year courses! The 3.5 hour classes are pretty grueling. I took roughly 8 pages of scrawled, abbreviation-ridden notes during each, which means I'll need to type them. I was SO relieved to finally start classes. Psychology is preferable to the intensive 6-hour French grammar, history, and culture orientation course.
This weekend, Dickinson took us on a trip into the countryside. Saturday morning, I was running late, so my host dad drove me to the bus (love). We drove three hours to Conques, a village which dates back to the Middle Ages (of course). Apparently, the majority of these villages were constructed when someone chose to build a church, and a community sprung up around it. We hiked up a mountain to see a chapel -
the view was incredible! - and ate a picnick lunch at the top. Afterwards, we viewed the church and it's tresor. Yes. There was treasure. Lots
of gold-plated and bejewled idols. Next, our journey continued to Cordes-Sur-Ciel. The bus dropped us off at the base of the city. We HIKED up through tiny streets into the centre-ville at the top of the mountain, and got settled in our hotel. Our chambre was incredible. Heated towel rack, flat-screen tv, trouser press, awesome shower, a sink which resembled the Parthanon, and oh yeah- a PANORAMIC VIEW OF THE FRENCH COUNTRYSIDE.
We ate dinner at the hotel Saturday night. Apéritif of violet liqueur, entrée of escargot tarte, plat principal of roast duck, and some tasty cake thing for dessert.
Sunday morning, we woke up to the best hotel breakfast of my life. Muesli, coffee, croissants, chocolate croissants, fresh fruit, yogurt, cheese, ham, and sausage. Soon, it was time to explore the city. Our history/art/French culture professor gave us a walking tour of the city, then set us free to shop and eat lunch. There were plenty of shops to explore: souvenirs, wine, even crossbows and foi gras. We found a restaurant for lunch, and divided up into two tables hoping for better service. Thirty minutes later, the other Dickinson table had received their food, and we had yet to see our server. This rendered me almost too cranky to enjoy the 40-person chorus seated across the room, who kept harmonizing French folk music. Eventually our table gave up, left, and found a lovely little shop for some ham and quiche.
After lunch, we loaded up the bus, and drove to a winery. We received a full guided tour by the owner. He showed us his pigeonnier (really old pigeon house), and garden featuring a fleur de lis topiary. He shared the funny story of, shortly after the end of the cold war, some Russian military leaders visited to learn how to make wine. His father was giving them a tour of the gardens, and appoligized that he only had the fleur de lis to show them, not the hammer and sickle. He explained the different processes for making red and white wine, and brought us into the storage and processing areas. This was followed, of course, by a wine tasting. Thanks, Dickinson College!
Just a quick tidbit about class today. My clinical psych class is most definitely centered around Freud and psychoanalysis. Thanks, Professor. Now I know three-hours-worth of Freudian principles. 1 hour of lecture time dedicated to Freud comparing the human psyche to crystals. 1 hour dedicated to metapsychology, the basis of psychoanalysis. Basically, pseudoscience. This meant that a friend and I spent some quality post-class time in a pastry shop.