International students explore American life

Pascal Monier (left) and Marie-Pierre Berrod (right), along with Christelle Ravez, have actively thrown themselves into campus life at ULV. / photo by Ary Farajollahi
Pascal Monier (left) and Marie-Pierre Berrod (right), along with Christelle Ravez, have actively thrown themselves into campus life at ULV. / photo by Ary Farajollahi

by Amy Borer
Editorial Director

For three young French women, La Verne is a whole new world of excitement and intrigue.

Marie-Pierre Berrod, Pascal Monier and Christelle Ravez came to the University of La Verne at the end of January unaware of what was before them, but eager to spend the semester experiencing the American way of life. Now, as the semester draws to a close, none is disappointed and all will leave with fondness in their hearts.

“It’s very exciting when you go to another country to try to adapt to the way of life of the people,” said Monier.

Although the women felt slightly out of place at first, it did not take long for them to make the adjustment.

“At the beginning, we were a little bit lost, but not anymore,” said Berrod.

While all miss French food, especially cheese, the biggest differences cited by the three were things that most students at La Verne probably do not even think about.

“We were not used to having dinner so early, said Monier. “At 6 p.m., we were not hungry so we wouldn’t eat. But there were no major adjustments, except the language, of course.”

“At the very beginning, we were not used to living in dorms,” added Berrod. “In France, when you are a student, you can very easily have an apartment and even if you were in dorms, you had your own room. We weren’t used to having a roommate or a bathroom for 12 people. Now, it’s very nice.”

Campus living is not the only collegiate aspect that varies between the United States and France. Both Berrod and Monier, who have completed their studies with business majors in France, find the classroom atmosphere to be completely different.

“It’s really great to be in a university here because we can compare the differences. It’s really exciting,” said Monier.

“Here you can choose the classes you want. In France it’s more specialized, even from the beginning. In the way of learning, it’s slower here, in the classes we are taking,” Berrod pointed out.

The women have also come to appreciate the freedom to express themselves and take a variety of different classes they are given at ULV.

“What is nice is that you’re encouraged to participate a lot in class,” said Monier. “Also, in France, you choose a major and you have to stick to your major. You can only take classes related to your major.”

Berrod added, “In France, especially in a university, you are very passive. You just take your notes.

“It’s really nice because the classes we take aren’t very important since we already graduated in France. We feel fortunate to come abroad and undergo another way of life.”

Overall, all of the women believe that American life is not that much different from French.

“For example, here, the coffee you drink is, for us, not coffee. Our coffee is much stronger. You notice things like that, but you get used to them,” said Monier.

“There are many differences, but at the same time, it’s the same way of life. Here everything is bigger and people consume a lot,” said Berrod, who was impressed at the size of American highways and cars.

“The people are also more complicated than we are,” she said. “We are more relaxed. We are also more practical. If something is not useful to our day to day life or job, we don’t want it.”

While the French students enjoy spending their time at La Verne going to coffee shops, restaurants, the beach, bars and spending time with friends, their favorite activity is traveling to new places.

“We appreciate very much the traveling. Each weekend we try to go to a different place,” said Berrod.

So far, their favorite place to visit has been San Francisco.

“Maybe because it’s more European,” said Berrod. “What I like is that you have street life with lots of shops and lots of people hanging around.”

“The bay is really nice and on the pier it’s very lively. It’s human. L.A. is too big, too huge,” Monier added.

Each student is anxious to get back to France, but none regret the time spent in the United States and would like to visit again, if the opportunity arises.

“If I have the opportunity to come back and to work one or two years, I’m sure I will do it,” said Berrod. “I don’t think I could live here for a very long time, but one or two years would be nice.”

“I think I will also come back here, but more as a tourist than to live. I would like to go to New York and the rest of the East Coast,” Monier added.

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