Professor Matthieu Rouffet, who teaches in the science department at Point Loma Nazarene University, has gone through many cultural and academic changes, being born and raised in France, about an hour from Paris.
Rouffet said the hardest thing about teaching in a country he didn’t grow up in is understanding the culture and realizing what can be expected of students given the vast and diverse experiences of high school.
“It’s not necessarily difficult to study who my students are, but it doesn’t come naturally to me and it takes effort. The accent can be difficult at times, but personally I have learned to accept it and repeat myself more often to make sure my students understand what I am saying,” Rouffet said.
Tomas Bergmann, who lived in France for a year and a half, said: “The work ethic in France is different from that in America. America values efficiency while France values quality. They each value different types of effort. One is not bigger than the other.
Carissa Patel, a finance and accounting major, who is of Indian descent, said only middle and upper class members can be educated because it is so expensive.
“If you go to school and you’re rich, then you don’t have to work so hard because you already have money. I think the students there definitely work harder because they learn more intensive work at a young age,” Patel said.
Rouffet explained that colleges in France don’t have a lot of campus experience like they do in the United States. According to Rouffet, students in France are very hard workers and are very dedicated to taking classes and studying more than anything else.
“While this may have changed over the past decade, college professors tend to lecture to large audiences rather than engage students in engaging activities, but in order to help students, our program includes recitation sessions where a small group of students can interact with the teacher on a more personal basis,” Rouffet said.
Grace Ann Bloom, a third-year writing major who has traveled to India several times for missionary work, said, “From what I have seen, education in India is a level more difficult than for American students because there is a lifelong pressure on children. to work hard for college or go straight into a trade after graduating from high school. Lots of studies are done and laziness is not tolerated at school or in the family setting. There are plenty of young children whose most important thing on their mind is “school” and even children who spend their sleepless nights studying.
In France, there is no university sports team. PLNU students enjoy attending sporting events and cheering on their school, but sport in France is mostly played outside of the university system.
Another major difference between the American education system compared to France is the importance of finals week. In France, there is usually only one exam that counts to pass a class. As the fate of a test can determine a mark in a class, an A can be very difficult to obtain in France. Rouffet said another difference in the French education system is that “GEs are actually taken in high school and not college”.
Although Professor Rouffet misses French cuisine and “good old French humour”, getting to know his students and talking about life with them has been one of his favorite parts of the job.
“I enjoy teaching and being in the classroom every day, and I also enjoy being in my lab doing drug discovery research with my students during the summer. For me, I feel blessed to not only teach on a subject I am passionate about, but to do so in a faith-based environment and hopefully mentor students along the way,” Rouffet said.
By: Fiona Rasak