WARNING: this blog post contains pictures of cats.

I have a lecturer at Potsdam uni who terrifies me. Anybody who’s spoken to me about my year abroad will probably have heard me mention my French grammar lecturer and why I find her so scary.

She is very strict. She is very demanding. She doesn’t like it when you’re late or not prepared for her class. She doesn’t like it if you have the wrong attitude. She doesn’t like it if you’re wrong. Apparently this is quite common for French teachers?? Particularly those who teach French grammar??

At first I found her method of teaching very difficult to get on with. I would turn up to my lesson each week flustered about what would happen in the following hour
and a half. There have been a couple of occasions where I’ve left upset (even in tears one week!!) because I felt so overwhelmed by the pressure and that I didn’t understand that week’s topic.

Accurate representation of my face when the teacher asks a question I don’t know the answer to.


But since I’ve returned back to lectures after Christmas I’ve started to notice a change, not in her method of teaching, but in my response to it.

I haven’t been turning up to the class flustered. I’ve been prepared to answer her questions. I’ve not got upset if I got an answer wrong, instead I’ve asked her to explain the correct answer to me to make sure I fully understand it. And I’ve left feeling accomplished, rather than deflated.

So why do I feel that it’s positive that my French teacher scares me?

It all boils down to one thing: motivation.

I struggle quite a lot with finding motivation to do things. Motivation to do homework, motivation to do my YARP (Year Abroad Research Project), motivation to do my washing, motivation to go food shopping and, disgustingly, sometimes even motivation to get a shower and get dressed (this last one I blame the depression and not my laziness!!).

I may struggle to find motivation to do work for some other classes, although I will always do it in the end, but for this class I make sure I am fully prepared.

So in a way the fact that my French lecturer terrifies me, motivates me to prepare for her classes and motivates me to ensure I do my best to understand the grammar topic that week and practice it.

I guess it’s not her being scary that motivates me, but remembering how I felt at the beginning of the semester when I was unprepared and got answers wrong, that pushes me to work harder. I don’t want to sit there and feel stupid and like I’m not good enough. I want to walk out of her class every week feeling that I’ve achieved something. And do you know what? I think she’s got a new respect for me for that (she has complimented me two weeks in a row now, scary!)

Me when I leave my grammar class now! (Yes that is a cat waving the French flag…)

P.S. translation of the saying on the main photo: sometimes you have to look at life from a different angle.