Stephen A. Fuqua (SAF) is a Bahá'í, programmer, and conservation and interfaith advocate in the DFW area of Texas.

May 29, 2008

Reading French, First Day of Class

I am going to learn how to read French. Fluently. In seven weeks. Really. And I do not like the University of Minnesota's web site.

Tonight, five of us whipped through grammar basics in the first session — two classes per week on the UMN East Bank campus, extending through early July. The point of the class is to learn how to read French in the arts and sciences. My particular interests are both literary and academic: in literature, I would like to know what Tolstoy's and Dostoyevsky's characters are saying, and perhaps to read Camus in the original; in academics, I am particularly interested in religious studies / sociology, which is a fertile and often un-translated field of study in the French language.

Thanks to my AmeriCorps*VISTA service, I have $3,000+ that can be spent on tuition, and it expires in August of 2009. Thus I have been eager to free up a bit of time to use this money. A few weekends ago I was telling my parents about this, and mentioned that I would love to be able to read French. Searching the course catalog… and there it was: French without speaking. Of course I'd love to be able to converse as well, but those classes take too much of your time.

To give you a taste of what we'll be doing (which is all I have at this point!): the first reading is "an article on the resistance of bacteria to antibiotics written by a reporter for the left-wing weekly magazine, Libération." I'll let you know how it goes.

Ok, now to complain about umn.edu:

  1. They say the bookstore closes at 6:00 PM. Mon femme happened to be in the area around 3:00 and saw that they were closing at 4:30, so thankfully picked up my course packet.
  2. They say the ID card station at the gym is open on Thursday 5-7 PM. Nope, it's actually Wednesday.
  3. Once logged in as a student, nearly every link opens a new window.

I've heard many other complaints from said femme.