Bonjour dear Komrades,
Its been more than a month at the ESCP-EAP Paris and it's been great. The city is beautiful with its boulevards, cafes, bistros and most importantly, the fashion conscious Parisians. The 35 hour work week ensures that Parisians have time for everything art, music and the numerous museums the city is so famous for. People truly enjoy life and can hardly be seen running around, they do things at their own sweet pace.
The French education system ( well, we had a 2 hour session on it) is highly competitive and only the best can make it to the elite Schools of excellence called the Grand Ecoles (ESCP-EAP is one of the better known Grand Ecoles). And successful people in every sphere are from Grand Ecoles System. To get into even the least famous Grand Ecole is more prestigious than getting into the best university. And we've had firsthand experience of the respect people give you after knowing that you are a student of a Grand Ecole!
The International exchange programme attracts about 150 students from 21 countries including Members of EU, US, Mexico, Russia, Israel, Argentina, China, Japan amongst others and this really makes it a International Exchange programme. It is quite an experience to just listen to different accents of English.
The professors are also on international exchange or so it would seem. We have French, Irish, American, British Professors. These professors do a lot of consulting for corporates and have a rich working experience which adds a very practical dimension to their teaching. Another interesting thing is that most of the professors think very highly about Indian students and attribute computer-like mathematical abilities to Indian brains. Guess we need to thank our seniors for that but it surely is a very, very positive image to live up to.
For the exchange students, courses offered in both English and French. Although, Indian students have taken courses in English. We initially had a course that place of France in European and world affairs. Most of us have taken regular courses while a few have taken some very exotic courses like Working of the Human Mind and Evolution of the American Cinema. The lectures are usually of 3 hours with a fifteen minute break after a 1.5 hours and as usual, there's some intelligent CP and some crappy CP. People walk in and out as they feel. Students are treated as equals. Professors encourage students to go in for research and are always ready for writing papers with their students.
Elections are a funny affair here - there are Campus parties and these parties nominate candidates to contest against each other. These candidates distribute cakes, chocolates, candies and juices early in the morning. There are parties to get votes with free alcohol and food, not to mention dancers from famous bars, quite unimaginable in IIMK! All these affairs are sponsored by corporates. In fact there was such a party last night sponsored by some energy drink company (of course everyone was more interested in the alcohol than the energy drink!) It's been quite an experience so far... c'mon junies, work hard; then come and party in Europe! J
That was Aruna Nayak reporting from Paris. The others too sent in their two bits:
Gopi told us how he was 3 hours late for a presentation at school due to the transportation strike that has now hit France. The bike service (that allows you to pick up and drop bikes at stations), was the main means of transport while some Parisians hit the streets with roller-skates and skateboards!
Sheetal's been finding the language and pronounciations very funny, because the French turn rs into h sounds and the frequently used 'pardon' turns into 'pah-do' (with a soft d) that when translated into Hindi, makes it a strange thing to say to someone you meet in the street :D Having Moroccans and Sri Lankans in their neighbourhood has also led to some interesting experiences for these guys.
Ananya wrote on her blog, "The first look at the Seine and a cruise on it is something that I dare not attempt to describe in words, I have neither the prowess nor the imagination to convey to the reader the beauty of the experience. The only guarantee is that it lifts your spirits and gives you a high that not the strongest alcohol can".
She also lists some 'Highlights' from the early days of their stay -
1.Tushar being asked by a fellow Indian student - 'Excuse Me! Which country are you from?'
2. Our unsuccessful attempts at using the Euro Latino telephone calling card.
3. Tomato Puree being misunderstood for Tomato Ketchup (Yeah! Yeah! We can't read French).
4. The daily effort at comprehending the food items in the Mess.
5. The shower system (You need to keep pressing a button to keep the water flowing).
6. Gopi asking a man on the station for directions in Tamil.(And actually getting the answers)
All of them have been having a very frustrating time with the French calling card system which explains Venky's gestures in the picture below.
The picture below should tell us why the guys just don't want to come back :)
(Photo credits: Gopi)