Vie du campus

U Can Study Buzzed University

daisybelle.jpgChaque semaine, Daisy Nguyen, étudiante en troisième année de sciences politiques et de droit à l’Université de Californie, en échange cette année à Sciences Po, nous racontera la vie vue par un bon tiers de la population estudiantine de notre institut – en anglais.
Every week, Daisy Nguyen, a third year exchange student from the University of California studying Political Science and Law, will relate life as third of the Sciences Po students see it – in english.

Paris is so fantastically sophisticated, it makes all us Americans want to revoke our first kegstand. Only in France do people go to clubs with more than 80% of clothing covering their body. In America, the goal is to go out with as little cloth over your privates as possible. This way, you can be naked without actually being naked. American efficiency at its best.

I study in California, my apartment is on the beach and every night of every day, my neighbors play loud, vibrating, techno music. When students are ‘stressed out’ they suntan naked in the sand. People come to class in wetsuits (sometimes followed by a surfboard) and flip flops are a fashion accessory all year round. Currently the University of California Santa Barbara ranks as a Top 5 party school in the United States, with the only university in the entire country that boasts its own beach. UCSB, or better known by the locals as U Can Study Buzzed, is host to annual traditions. Halloween fesitivities and Floatopia bringing in about 20 000 ‘tourists’. These events raid the streets with people who are clothed with scraps, and for Floatopia during the spring, students create a galactic feat of floaties in the Pacific Ocean. It’s no wonder Katy Perry’s ‘California Girls’ is such a hit, we’re living the American dream.

To say the least, Paris is the complete opposite. I mean sure Parisians party, but they do it with such a level of class that is unlike the Americans. American students are always down to hang upside down from a beer barrel or downing shots of C-Mo in record time. Self induced comas are the fad, where bragging rights are given to whoever blacked out first. Since arriving in Paris, I have a newfound reverance for the standards by which the French party. Americans like to brag about their godly staminas but burn out at 2AM, unlike them, the French party until the first metro and more frequently, into the afternoon of the next day. The French are classy, not trashy, and there are more outlets and tolerance for those who choose to live an alcohol-free life.

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But it is specifically the manner in which they have a good time that is different from anything I’ve seen in the states. The French will drink wine and beer to an extent, and live to see the light of the next day. Americans will get so blacked out within the first ten minutes of opening a Smirnoff that they spend the rest of their party locked in a dark closet somewhere.

This leads me to question the source of this delirious partying culture in America. Ultimately, it comes down to the law. In the states, the legal age to consume alcohol is 21, practically when you’ve graduated college. Underage drinking is like the forbidden apple- so sweet, so tempting, and so worth it. All those post-teen hormones explode your first year at college, and the fact that you’re doing it illegally makes underage drinking that much more appealing. In Europe, its just not as cool to steal away your parents Cognac when you’re 20. Moreover, we have associations like fraternities, sororities, and huge sporting events which only proliferate alcohol. This makes not drinking alcohol a difficult, if not impossible choice. Most first year college students have not had much alcohol experience nor lived away from their parents, and see this as an opportunity to go balls out.

Don’t be fooled- this isn’t an anti-drinking post. Rather, it is a short analysis of the roots of partying cultures in France and America. Albeit, there are millions of exceptions- I have seen Frenchies jump over the moon after a pitcher of bière blanche. In sum, Americans party hard to the point of oblivion. What’s the point of having so much obnoxious fun if you can’t even remember it the next day ? Perhaps the Superbowl tailgating parties best capture American die-hards; generally the largest man in America, with his face painted blue (most likely holding a hotdog in one hand), jumping from sheer intoxication on top of a minivan.

11 Comments

  • French girl

    Very nice article, even though it maybe lacks some precisions about parisian parties. I have never attended any party in the USA, therefore I don’t really know if Daisy’s depiction is accurate or not. However, being a French girl who grew up in Paris, I’ve experienced parties quite like the one she described (the « american » ones) when I was in lycée (between 16 and 18 yo). Maybe the fact that alcohol consumption is allowed at the age of 18 in France makes the temptation become sweet earlier (usually first alcoholised parties take place during lycée) and makes it easier to French lycéens under the age of 18 to buy alcohol. That’s why i agree with Frenchboy : not all parisian parties can be called classy. Unless vomiting several times before midnight is conidered classy by anyone here. Probably you have this impression of less trash parties in scpo, but scpo students don’t really speak for all parisian students. In order to make your article more complete, maybe it would be worth going out of the VIIe arrondissement and check the parties organised elsewhere in Paris (for example the XXth or the close suburb like Montreuil). Again, those parties probably aren’t similar to the ones in your university, but it would allow you to discover parties that aren’t so classy and yet organised by french people.

  • AmericanGirl as Well

    I go to UC Davis in northern California, and even though it’s known for being a « cowtown » with « nothing to do, » I can testify that I have eye-witnessed some notorious, scantily-clad, binge-drinking partying. Maybe it’s a « stereotype, » but this stereotype has definitely stemmed from some truth. Although not ALL Americans are the same (this is true, we have not perfected the science of asexual reproduction… yet), if we are talking about the American university PARTYING SCENE (at least, Californian), and not the stay-home-and-drink-apple-juice scene (not that there is anything wrong with that at all), then it is MOSTLY true that MANY Americans, WHEN they party, « live for the nights they can’t remember, » or as the French may put it, « boire pour oublier. » So bravo Daisy, I think your article is humorous, witty, and well-written. Although, maybe next time you should think about writing an article about apple juice nights, in order to cover every single American college student experience in the United States.

  • UCLA girl

    Having been a student at both UCSB and UCLA, I have experienced both party scenes, and while UCLA’s may not be an « every-night » or « all-day rager » type of scene, like UCSB, it’s very similar in terms of what goes down in a party. Having also been to France and experienced the party scene there, I also have some French perspective to compare it to.

    Now, having said that, there are always exceptions. You’ll always find a group of friends on a campus who just love to uncork a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and talk politics, or a group of friends who would rather go out to a casual and intimate dinner than dance to techno music and do keg stands. But the reality is, in America, MOST college students engage in the party behavior Daisy has described and consume large amounts of alcohol. If anything, Daisy is actually be really nice in her description considering the outrageous things I have witnessed at UCSB. I mean really, it would make a porn star blush. When I left UCSB and transferred to UCLA, I thought my party scene would include mingling with the « classy », « intelligent » ambitious individuals you would expect from a world-renowned institution. Well, the first UCLA party I attended crushed those dreams as I disturbingly watched a boy nearby lock the apartment door and do a line of coke. And subsequent parties have failed to renew my hopes for an atypical American party. Lots of beer, shots, girls in skimpy clothes, guys who only want one thing…I mean this is all across American universities. Whether you think this is good or bad is unimportant, it’s just a simply stated truth.

    And I hate to break it to American girl, but the French think the Americans are stupid and ignorant regardless of this article.

  • HONESTLY WTF

    She is an editorial writer, writing about HER experience in France. She’s not a sociologist nor a cultural analyst. Don’t take her experience as truth, and don’t be ignorant enough to say that what she says isn’t true to an extent. Americangirl- DEAL WITH IT. I think you are just getting so offended because this is actually true, and possibly even depicts you. Anyone with eyes can see that Americans are a lot more rowdy and crazy than Europeans.

    As far as the article goes, I thought it was playful and well written. Hilarious and aside from that, she actually gets serious and analyzes the roots of partying. What I especially like is that this is a serious subject written with light-hearted wit. It’s the rest of you angry Americans that drag on the curtails of the truth. REALITY HURTS, DEAL WITH IT.

  • FrenchBoy

    I’m french and I’m offended: how dare you say the French are classy when most of us are armpit-licking trashy obnoxious malevolent fools who spend the night vomiting on the sidewalks waiting for the next femme to show up to hurl sexist insults at, and point our organs to her thighs , hooting our lust and desire in the manner best known to the baboon.

  • BReal

    AmericanGirl,
    Loosen up your conservative ways and open your eyes. Although her specific experience is not universal, it is not to say the least extremely common in America. Obviously not all Americans live this lifestyle, but it is definitely an increasing trend. I attend a different American university and have visited quite a few multiple times. Let me tell you that my observations at each have all been quite similar- a large amount of people do indeed party without restraint. Not to say that all of the French are the opposite of this, but when you compare the overall mannerisms and trends between Americans and French, you’ll be sure to see the difference. Anyway, my goal is not to try to convince you that all Americans like to party, seeing as you’re clearly living a more reserved and desolate lifestyle. But the point is, you really ought to lighten up and not take this so personally. An article writer isn’t always going to accurately portray EVERYONE’S lives, but if she can relate to a good amount of them, then why not? Do some research on the increasing amount of underage drinking related incidents, or just look at some of your peers’ albums. You’re bound to see that you’re living in the dark from this issue. Really, your ignorance and denial of the reality of this situation is embarrassing.

  • AmericanGirl

    K,
    I don’t think anybody could or would contest that each person has an experience that is unique to them, so her being an American has nothing to do with whether or not she can speak on behalf of all Americans. Her experiences and her opinions are not those of all of her fellow countrymen. Further, the writer of this article has only attended one American university, so she can only base her article on the experiences that she has had at her home university and what she hears about other universities. Considering that the author of the article is a student at UC Santa Barbara, which is a school with a notorious reputation for their unhealthy partying lifestyle, I vehemently contest the use of this school to make any generalization of American universities in general.
    That being said, nobody can contest that the American and French social scenes are quite different. I just don’t think that the author of this article did a good job portraying the American side. Rather, she has succumb to the stereotypes of American parties, completely pandering to French readers and failing to represent Americans in all of their forms.
    The author portrays Americans as scantily clad, drunken barbarians who can’t control their alcohol consumption and then goes on to compare us to the French saying « The French are classy, not trashy.. ». Personally, not a single description of the American college student pertains to me, and the fact that the French now have reason to believe that we are all like this is embarrassing.

  • K

    To the American girl … the writer IS American, therefore I don’t think she’s just had one American experience. Moreover, she studies at an American University so I actually think this article is a credible source. Being an American myself, I can testify to the obnoxious partying culture that American universities have. I mean just having football teams and categories that rank parties shows the biggest difference btwn the French and the Americans. Not so much that this is a bad thing- I don’t think any of us Americans would trade our college experiences for the mundane in France … 😉

  • AmericanGirl

    I don’t think your personal experiences can generalize the way all american students partake in celebration. You probably need to take a step back from your limited perspective of the life of an american student and try to see the whole picture before you claim to speak on behalf of the whole of american college students. You are making us all look ignorant and unsophisticated, and you’re making yourself look bad for positing false truths.

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