Josh Brand, fifth-year philosophy
What was academic life like in Paris, and how did it compare?
“French education, like a lot of Europe, is public — like super public to the max — there’s no Catholic universities.
“Professors have a lot more autonomy — incredible autonomy — syllabuses aren’t required, [and] they can do their exams however they want. You know how, here, it’s like they register our schedule of exams? [With] them, they’re just like, ‘We’re gonna have it on this date — tell me if that’s okay with you.’
“On top of that, beautiful buildings.
“Campus life doesn’t really exist there — there’s no campus in the city. It’s just like buildings, maybe a courtyard, [and] it’s scattered all over the city.
“There’s no coursework, just exams. To be honest, I prefer [university] here, because I just like to have a little more structure in my life. You can tell [the professors here] want to help you out. The professors I had there were great, but you could still see that they were more just there, [with a] ‘Come if you want, but I don’t care’ [attitude] … ’cause tuition is so cheap there, right?
“One thing, though, [in Paris] you get a mark out of 20 — it’s like impossible to get 17 and above, so getting a 15 there is like, ‘Wow, that’s really good,’ but if you tell someone from here it’s like, ‘Uh, good for you?’ So, that was a really interesting aspect.
“It’s all very theoretical, which I really appreciated. Exams were never multiple choice — it was more like just, ‘Tell me what you know.’
“There’s no learning French there — you should just speak French already. So, I took linguistics courses in French, but they weren’t necessarily about the French language but were [about] other languages but in French.
“Make yourself uncomfortable every now and again.”
Photo and interview: Victoria Becker / Outreach Director