10 Things You Won’t Find on a French Campus

By Assanatti Di Malonda

Bronx Journal Staff Writer

with video by Manon Paulic

4763 miles separate France from the United States and college campuses in the two nations are miles apart as well. Here are some of the flora and fauna, accessories and hardware that you find in the U.S., but not across the pond.

1. Squirrels

You can’t find any squirrels on a French campus. If you do run across one, call the TV channels right away. Squirrels on a French campus would be news. People will want to hear about your experience.

(Photo: Ed Yourdon)

2. The Sportsplex

A French campus would never have a giant sports complex like Lehman’s Apex. French people are not lazy. They do exercise. Wandering through the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris, you might see French joggers competing at the level of Central Park runners. Nevertheless, students are not so into sports at school. It is telling that the most popular sport in France is soccer, a game where players turn professional and famous at 17, before they get the chance to attend college.

3. Starbucks

Come on, you don’t even work out. No Frappuccino or Café Latte. No energy expended, no sugar required!

4. Mac Computers

It seems like Bill Gates and Microsoft took control of French universities years ago and never let go. Maybe in some isolated rooms you may find one or two Mac laptops, but you will never find a room crowded with Apples. That probably explains why, in France, many people think if you own a Mac you are either a geek, or a geek. No matter how hard you explain that they are more convenient and easy to use, you will be and remain an exception.

5. The Bookstore

School spirit in France is not expressed by wearing college swag: sweatshirts, pants, books or an agenda with a school name on it. We don’t have university bookstores in France. Perhaps it is because French campuses aren’t that big or isolated, so it is easy to make your purchases off site.

Lehman campus (Photo: Venessa Luciano)

6. Trees

France, from Paris to Cannes and Marseille to Toulouse, is a very green land. However, on school grounds, you might find only one or two trees. American students take for granted a lush landscape, but in France you miss the green. Schools are all about work, which is good, but you can’t relax under a tree in front of a great baseball game, with a peanut flying into your face thanks to a squirrel.

7. Steam rooms and saunas

Maybe you didn’t even know that you could find one on an American campus either, but well hidden in the girls’ locker room of Lehman College Apex, you can find a steam room. Try to ask a French student if his university has a sauna anywhere on the campus and he won’t stop laughing.

8. Racquetball

No stray racquetballs will whiz by as you stroll on a French campus. In America, racquetball is a snobby sport mostly played by Wall Street executives in their 40’s trying to forget about the economic downturn.

9. Space

In the U.S. campuses can sprawl across many acres, but in France, campuses aren’t that big. This means crowded corridors no matter what university you are attending.

10. A full academic year

In France, you start the school year knowing that at one point or another you will end up being stuck in a strike. It may last a day or an entire semester, but there isn’t a single year without a strike that prevents students from attending school for at least an hour.

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