These people almost make up for the fact that I still don’t understand the passé simple.

Not all departments are created equal. I was essentially left on read by a department that will not be named; another department’s advisor didn’t respond to my email for over a month. The people in your major department of choice can and will make or break your college experience. Luckily enough for some of us here at Bwog, we have the privilege to be interacting with what is, I shall dare say, the best two departments to exist in the Barnard/Columbia universe: the Barnard and Columbia French departments.

Maybe it’s not surprising, given that the literal word department comes from the old French “departement,” but it’s true! And to express our gratitude for that fact, we would like to present an ode composed of just some of the ways the French departments have made us want to lay down our lives for them. The names have been abbreviated to initials to preserve even the slightest shred of our dignity.

Les raisons pour lesquelles je mourrais au nom du département de français:

  • AB gesticulating with a piece of chalk-like they are wielding a cigarette
  • TD, clearly on the verge of a mental break, photocopying a Borrow Direct-ordered script in time for me to use it in a paper
  • AB’s skull necklace and all-black attire
  • EA’s calico cat that runs around in the background of their Zoom video
    • Tell me their name!!
  • Everything about LP but ESPECIALLY them asking us what popular music is among the youth
    • Unsure of how they would process listening to WAP
  • AB telling our class that we can write a paper on immigrants and Paris for an assignment… or we can simply write a nice story
  • Everyone who told me I did not have to (re)take French Grammar and Composition
  • EA pushing back our paper due date not once, not twice, but three times
  • LP asking us our thoughts on inter-generational relations and being okay with me tearing Boomers to shreds
  • Every French professor who has responded to me saying, unfortunately in all seriousness, “For a few years now I’ve wanted to research the cultural perception of syphilis in 19th century France” with absolute enthusiasm
  • AB calling Baudelaire our “little friend”
  • AB telling us first thing when we went online in spring 2020 that everyone in the class would automatically pass, and she would cancel our final
  • MD cutting half of our reading because “There’s not enough on yellow fever to warrant you reading such a terrible novel”
  • “Usually after a talk at the Maison Française, we would all have a glass of wine together… I know that it’s 4 pm but that still seems fitting”
  • The fact that the classes such as“Sex, Drugs, and Marxism” and “Witches, Fairies, and Female Vampires” exist
  • The way the department decided on and shared the planned courses for the entire academic year over a month before Fall 2020 (re)registration
    • The Barnard French department’s Launch Week Zoom meeting. Just incredible vibes all around.
  • Both AB and MD praising my writing by just writing “Yes” after any sentence they agreed with
  • LP being the kindest, most forgiving person in the world when I just do not turn things in on time, which happens a lot
  • KS for proctoring the French placement exam during my NSOP, assuring me for the first time that the absolute coolest people that work in this department
  • AB assigning us a movie to watch over fall break (Paris je t’aime, an excellent film!)
  • PC taking any opportunity to dunk on the French and their language in our translation studies class
    • Legend behavior!
  • LP checking in with us emotionally during and reviewing how to say phrases like “I am feeling very anxious”
  • AB being okay with me simply forgetting to do a whole page of our midterm
  • BO for introducing himself in the following way at the French department launch week meeting this summer: “I’m not an uptight Brit… I’m a much looser Irishman”
  • MD being an election worker for this election!!
  • And finally:
    • Question: “Why is this class only three credits? This is a lot! If this were in the history department, it would be worth four.”
    • Response: “Because we work hard in the French department.”

Maison Française via Wikimedia Commons