By: Alexa Wybraniec
I can’t believe it’s 70 degrees and Christmas in two days! Anyway, I kept another study abroad prep appointment- go me! I go to Rutgers at the New Brunswick campus in NJ, where everything is made up and credits don’t matter (because if you aren’t fulfilling your core requirements, you’re truly wasting your time). I don’t have an academic adviser because I’m in the School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) and I suppose there are just too many of us. At freshman orientation, the happy-go-lucky orientation leaders comforted us into thinking that “you’re never far away from friendly, knowledgeable advice from an academic dean or staff member!”
That’s partly true but what I’ve learned in my first year and a half of college is that life is about networking. You need to make real, human connections with your peers and professors. Rutgers encourages SAS students to make an appointment with a dean every semester to ensure that you’re not going to get screwed with a graduation setback or something. I actually scheduled my dean advising appointment for the same day as my French final exam. My head was filled with the differences between le passé composé, l’imparfait, et le plus-que-parfait when I met with Dean Anderson. It was nothing like my meeting with Lauren from last week, to say the least.
The deans are helpful but are straight-to-the-point, no-nonsense types of people. They are mostly there to tell you if you’re finishing your core requirements in a timely manner – they’re not experts on your individual areas of study. I was seated in the opposite corner of the room, so I couldn’t see what was on her computer screen. I spent about thirty seconds describing my plans to study abroad in Paris when she immediately informed me of something I completely overlooked. I never officially declared French as my minor!
To study abroad in Paris, students are not required to major or minor in French. In fact, it’s not even a requirement to take classes in French for SciencesPo, the school at which I’ll be studying. For my first semester at SciencesPo, I’ve decided to take my course-load in English with a mandatory French grammar course to keep up on learning the language. I don’t feel ready to take on culture shock AND language shock just yet. Hopefully by the spring semester, I’ll be better acclimated to France and ready to challenge myself in French.
Even though a French minor isn’t a requirement to study in Paris and the classes I’ll be taking may not help me toward graduating as a Journalism student, studying abroad has always been at the top of my to-do list. I knew I’d get an amazing opportunity to live in Europe at a price I’ll never see again in my life. Plus, there’s no better way to learn a language than immersion. I felt it when I stayed in Morocco for a week, and I felt it again in Montreal. There’s an inexplicable desire to speak French, to somehow communicate smoothly and slyly with natives, when you’re surrounded by what you so desperately want to understand. No classroom has ever made me feel the buzz that I had in my head when I was walking through Rabat’s medina. No language professor has ever prepared me to haggle for a Moroccan teapot.
For the rest of the visit, Dean Anderson spoke in a rush. In one breath, she informed me that I could easily declare my minor on one of the computers in the first-floor office. After calculating my courses and credits, she told me that I’d been “expeditious” in my choices and only had three more requirements to fulfill in the SAS Core. She informed me, as Lauren had, that she could not help me discern whether my SciencesPo credits would count toward my major/minor or not.
She did, however, tell me about the “Study Abroad Proposal Form” which I will need to take to each individual department for review. In my case, that means making appointments with the Journalism and French departments. Thankfully, I have a contact for the French department, courtesy of Lauren. Basically, I’ll need to create a theoretical schedule based on the SciencesPo courses offered per semester, and then ask the departments to count those credits toward my major/minor.
She concluded by telling me, to all of my joy and excitement, that yes, I will be able to graduate on time in 2016 as long as I continue to take winter and summer courses that count toward the rest of my core requirements. I also still need to make appointments with those departments which I’ll totally do. Oh, and now I’m officially minoring in French. Bam.
About the author:
Alexa Wybraniec is a journalism major at Rutgers University. She is going to be studying abroad in Paris at Sciences- Po for a year starting in the fall semester of 2014. Check back every Monday for a new post from Alexa. You can connect with her via her Facebook Page.