I’m currently sitting inside the little cage that calls itself “a student lodgment” and it’s time to talk for the educational and social system that exists in France.
First off, let’s start from the blocks of cement I’m currently standing on; the student hostel of Beaulieu 33.
It’s an old building (not neo-classic of course) and it’s possible that hundreds of students have been stayed on each room throughout the years. The commonly used kitchen and toilets are quite dirty and worn out. It’s not that they are comparable to the astronomic odor of shit in the shared toilets of Greek Army since the toilets here get cleaned by the personnel, but there’s always some primal people who didn’t learn to respect the others.
The room is ok even if it’s more of a… cage. The window serves well since it allows plenty of light to go through and the plastic window shields keep the light and the curious glances outside at will.
Inside the building there’s also an automatic vending machine that provides coffee, sodas and snacks and a TV room that I’ve never used (not that I would ever use it)
In the near buildings there are also washing machines, library where its space is also used for tabletop and social games, the university restaurant Etoile, the reception where you can make complains and photocopies and the secretary that besides the arrangement of papers, it is entitled to gather the rents.
We proceed to the core of the interest. The university itself.
I am taking my lessons in the Faculte de Droit et Science Politique (in short Fac de Droit) that’s placed in the center of the city. It’s a huge building, externally ugly that hosts the two faculties, amphitheaters and hundreds of halls and offices.
The main amphitheatric spaces are seven and they are huge enough to host conferences, projections and other stuff, way more formal than simple lectures. The amphitheater 6 sports three floors and reminds me of a small Opera of Athens.
The microphone systems are always on. Imagine that those amphitheaters are huge and always full, so there’s havoc going on. That’s why the professor always comes with a microphone in hand. With his first two words, everybody shuts up and the lesson begins.
But, the university isn’t all for lessons and exams and again lessons. It’s a fine tuned mechanism of services. The university hires bilingual French students (or yearly-stayed erasmus students) to help their international comrades who face difficulties because they don’t have French as their maternal language. There are also other programs undergoing at the same time, varying from cultural happenings, conferences to social discussions with subject such the homophobia and young alcoholism.
But the university isn’t an the only institution that provides services to the students. There are other institutions that take care of various other services. For example, the after mentioned lodgment, it’s managed my CROUS. The same institution also manages the Restaurants.
The academic restaurants are scattered in the city. There’s Etoile, Fugeres and Brasserie Hoche and other small spots that serve food daily in specific times. The price of a full lunch is 2.60 for the students, via the special coupons that are on sale into the restaurants. In the price is included the main dish, the dessert and the entrant that can be replaced with a salad. The quantity sure is far from what i get from the university restaurant in Mytilini, but the food is perfect both in quality and variety.
Generally in the central dining room, when you get out from the self-service, there are different sauces to add, mayonnaise, ketchup and, if you find the food a bit too cold for your tastes, there are microwave ovens available for a quick heating.
I haven’t ate something I didn’t like until now. From the classic burgers with fries to fish fillet with steamed vegetables and rice, everything was very good. The same thing can be said for the salads that usually contain cheese (I also found one that had Roquefort in it) and the desserts vary from tart pieces to yoghurt with fruit and composted fruit salads.
You ‘ll tell me; “gee, Mario, you ARE paying for this” in contradiction to Greece where the food is free in the University's Restaurant. But I bet Housemaster and George would have no proclaims and gladly pay if our university’s restaurant looked, smelled, and tasted close to the restaurants here.
I kind of made you hungry, eh? Sorry for that. I kind of went off-rails with the nom-noms too but I wanted to tell you so bad.
Let’s have a glance at the social organizations that are available in Rennes and they are mostly dedicated to the young people. The UEB is the main organism that is associated with the university and the center of youth, the 4 BIS are only some parts of the organized effort for youth orientation.
In the 4 BIS are located a lot of services that left me with dropped jaws when I’ve heard them. There’s the Multimedia space, where young people can use the computers to surf the internet via open source software such as Firefox and open office. It’s also a calm place for reading and studying, it has wireless and there are huge bookcases filled with informational folders for the various available educational institutions and programs. There also was a young man that gave out the codes for the WiFi. Even the room was modern enough with carpet, vibrant colors and minimal pop style.
In the same building there’s a room that’s dedicated for happenings. Those happenings vary from theatre and speeches to rock concerts. They are not even comparable to the boring, pretentious and sterile bullshit we get in Greece from such organizations. Here there’s no stop on how the young people express themselves. If it is electro or punk rock, that’s what it is. I won’t be surprise even if they drop a Drague Queen show (you know, men who dress like famous women for satirical purposes like Zaxaratos does in Greece) But I think such show has been already done in Diapason. I am not sure though
Also, in the 4 Bis are various supporting offices, advertisements and classfields for employment, sell and buy, or co-travelling via car. There’s also an office dedicated to search of lodgment and a counselor for the independence from the family – Something we REALLY NEED in Greece- and a space for expositions of photography or paintings.
Finally, I stand impressed the most by the last space of 4bis. It’s the space for health, and psychological support. There are small tables for conversation and at the same time, there is a psychiatrist available at all time, without pre-fixed date that gives help anonymously for everyone who asks for help in the subjects of health, sex, psychological problems, even violence in the family.
That building is the screaming proof that social politics can work out if there is good will. It’s existence is totally devoted to youth that even the opening time is the same when the young people wake up (12 o’clock) and shuts down a bit before the young people go out for a drink (8 o’clock in the evening). It’s services doesn’t take place entirely inside the 4bis. They organize excursions, they help children without papers to integrate and get education in the country, and they organize themed nights in famous bars of the town. There’s always something to do and someone to turn for help if you have a problem. It’s something much needed to a lot of countries and Greece is among them.
Well to conclude, Greece VS France? I don’t want to look ungrateful to my country, but it’s so messed up in comparison. I also appreciate the good stuff that we have and my other fellow student seem to not understand such us the dialectical method of our professors and the free distribution of books and notes. The system of entering the university via university exams straight to the institution of choice is way-way better than the national exams in Greece.
Also, while in a company of same age men, I mentioned that I’ll be in the army next year because it was mandatory. Their reaction was like “Dude, that happened to your countries too like two or three decades ago why it’s still mandatory in yours?” That says it all by itself.
So, I hope i got you enough into the mood of what’s running around here. Still, I feel like I left a lot out. It’s too much of new experience to put it together into one single post, so I’d be explaining further on the next ones.
Hey! look! Linkies!
lodgment and restauration CROUS