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From Teacher To Student


I kept my promise: I wanted some changes in my life and I have slowly been working on that.

I had decided to attend university again. I already have a 3 years degree from the Institut des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (my former university in Paris), plus some post-grad credits, plus some French teaching certificate. But I was interested in taking additional classes in Canada, hoping to eventually complete a degree here. What can I say, I like studying.

It wasn’t an easy process, though. I chose to study at Ottawa University, hoping that as a bilingual university, they would know how to deal with my French degrees. Oh boy, I was wrong…

Within a few months, I discovered that:

  • I was considered a “mature student” (I’m 26, people!)
  • My French degrees didn’t worth more than 50% of a Canadian Baccalaureate
  • Being French and having studied in French wasn’t a proof that I could speak French (?!)
  • My English TOEFL test was lost, found, lost, found…
  • ….and so was my Chinese language placement test (which is really lost, I think)

Never mind. I finally got in, somehow. I’m studying part-time, taking only a class or two per session. I’m paying for it myself and working full-time, I can’t study more.

So, this summer, I completed the macroeconomics course and I’m currently taking political science. And I’m also taking… suspense… French as a second language!

Are you done laughing yet?

Yes, the university registered me as an English student. According to their logic, because I can provide the proof that I speak English (I passed the TOEFL) but no the fact that I can speak French (being French isn’t enough), then I must attend classes in English. And since my degree requires learning a second and a third language, well, my second language is French.

Now, it gets weirder. The University of Ottawa is bilingual, so I can hand my papers in either French or English, and many French-speakers teach classes in English and vice-versa (and not all professors are fluent in either language, trust me…). Canada does have some language-related issues.

Unlike in Europe, to study in a Canadian university, you have to be admitted. The process was very new to me: in France, all I had to do was basically to register at any university I wanted and then it was up to me to succeed academically. But in Canada, I had to first submit an application through a general provincial website: OUAC. I could make three choices: three programs, three universities. And of course, I had to pay: $120 for the base application fee, plus $50 for the document evaluation fee. I then brought all my French degrees and transcripts to the University of Ottawa for evaluation, plus a resume and a cover letter. I felt like I was applying for a job there!

The process wasn’t smooth at all.First, there was the English TOEFL story. Then for some reason, I wasn’t admitted at all: according to the website, “After reviewing your application, we regret to announce you that we do not accept your application for the program YYY for the following reasons:” (followed by a big blank). I showed up at the admission office and no one was able to tell me why my application was rejected. Eventually, about a week later, they changed their mind and I was accepted.

Meanwhile, I finally met two really helpful employees at the University who helped me through the last steps. Indeed, by the time I got the formal offer, it was already mid-August (and I had applied in April!) and most classes were full. On top of that, the university still hadn’t evaluate my French degrees, so I didn’t how which class I was exempted from taking… therefor, I couldn’t choose my classes.

But eventually, I made it. I picked two classes and was set to go. Sure, my Chinese placement test is still lost somewhere, I don’t know for sure which kind of credit I’m getting for my French studies but here I am – a part-time student again.

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