Chaque 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.
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.