Sunday, April 26, 2009

All the World's a Stage

When I meet French people and they ask me what university I study at in Paris, they are usually under-whelmed when I tell them the American University of Paris. First of all, they have never heard of it. Secondly, they always ask me, Why did you come to Paris to study in English at an American school? I tell them something along the lines of, That’s the only university my school would take credit for, but in reality I would fail miserably if my classes were taught in another language. Simply going to school at AUP has been a weird enough part of my trip.

AUP is an interesting place. It’s an American school with many American students, some of whom, like me, are studying there for a semester, others who fled the states immediately after high school to go to Paris. Sounds cool, but the small school sometimes feels like High School Version 2.0. I see the same people over and over and over again, in the school’s little bar/cafĂ© (Amex) and in the three classroom buildings. Many of the American students are younger than me, counting their time there in semesters rather than years (a European thing, apparently). But many of the students come from around the world.

This Saturday was World’s Fair, AUP’s annual drunken festival. Since coming to AUP in January, everyone has been talking and waiting months for this event and I was wondering how World’s Fair could ever live up to the hype. Students represent their home countries—over 100 countries represented—with tables offering authentic food and an alcoholic drink. One of the school classroom buildings is transformed in the middle of a Saturday afternoon into a giant MTV Spring Break Beach House with blasting music and drunken people and hilarious costumes.

One of the rooms at World's Fair

At 5 or 6 PM, the party moved just a few blocks from the school to the Champ de Mars, the Eiffel Tower park if you will. There, AUP just acted a drunk mess some more. My school in Boston would never allow such an event, nonetheless encourage drinking. But every event I’ve gone to through AUP—since the initial clubs fair to poetry readings by esteemed writers—has had the wine flowing. I say, Keep it coming!

Maria (Left. Swedish, though representing England since she went to high school there) and Susanne (Right. German) were my student advisors when I first got to AUP. I think they're also younger than me.
With Jess, one of my best friends here.

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