A few thoughts on the concept of study abroad...

Today is my second day of classes here in Paris.  In some senses, it is amazing.  I have the opportunity to learn from world-class professors... people that have been involved with the literal formation of international law (One of my professors assissted in the writing of the post-war Iraq constitution).  I am surrounded by dozens of other law students from a variety of systems and walks of life.  While my part-time program offers me amazing diversity in my classmates, this takes it to an entirely new level.  There are students from all over the US, as well as France, Isreal, and a few other European countries (however, I am one of the oldest students in the program, which feels weird, since I represent the median age of my UNLV program).

However, there are some weird downsides.

1.  I have no real desire to study.  I know a lot of my classmates are in the same situation & I think the skimming I do of the reading materials may actually be much more studying than most are doing.  Do you have any idea how difficult it is to read the evolution of merger and anti-trust law when I could be out visiting some of the amazing Parisian sites?!

2.  Everyone here seems to have different concepts of what is ok in the classroom.  Coming from an American system, we have a general set of standards that we adhere to - we generally don't talk while professors are lecturing, we try to be sneaky about surfing on the internet (though are not always successful), and we generally do what we can not to interrupt the class.  Others seems to have slightly different ideas... I will just leave it at that.

3.  I finally understand some of the struggles of my ELL students.  While all of the classes here are conducted in English, one of my professors is French.  Lives in France, works in France, but speaks English and is teaching a course in European Law.  His English is thickly accented and not completely fluent.  So, I have to pay so much more attention to parse apart what exactly it is he is saying... because while it is English, the academic language is unfamiliar to start with.  I find myself drifting off and struggle to pay as much attention as I should.  This must be how my students feel.  The words should be familiar, but the combination of the language barrier and the academic language makes it impossible to completely understand what is going on.


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