Novancia Business School, Paris, France
One thing that has surprised me the most about studying abroad in France is the differences between the French and the American education system. I knew that there would be a few differences, such as the dates of the semester. In the States, my spring semester at Western goes from mid-January to the end of April. In France, my spring semester at Novanica Business School Paris was scheduled to go from the beginning of February until the end of May. We also have two weeklong breaks at Novancia, one at the end of February and one at the end of April.
Once I started classes, I found out that courses run only nine weeks. There are eight weeks of class and then the final class is the final exam. Some classes started at the beginning of February and others didn’t begin until the beginning of March. I was fortunate that all five of my classes began in February, so I finished by the first week of May.
Each class is three hours long with about a half hour break. The classes are much longer than at home, but the break definitely helps. A class at Novancia is worth four credits in Europe, but is only worth two credits back in the States. Due to this, I had to take three classes with extra projects in order to earn the last credit to make the classes worth three credits. The extra work ranged from a 15-page paper to a 10-minute presentation.
The classes themselves were not too much work. Professors didn’t give too much homework and when they did, it consisted of reading articles and answering a few questions. It was nothing near the workload that I am typically used to. That was nice, however, it meant that most of the grade for the class was based on the exam and a presentation. That setup doesn’t leave much room for error, which was slightly nerve-racking since the French are known for grading fairly hard. The grade system in France ranges from 0-20. Anything below a 10 is failing and a good grade is a 14-16. Any grades above that are considered really good and they are rarely obtained. From what I gathered, a 12-14 is the most commonly awarded grade.
One practice that I found extremely beneficial in France was the high amount of presentations and talking in front of the class. I prepared one to three presentations for each class. However, overall, I found that I learn more from the classes that I take in the States. The longer semester allows more time for learning information and the weekly assignments help me practice the things that I learn in class.