From Parisian to Powegian

Exchange student explores the good and bad of life abroad


Moving to America, French exchange student junior Albane Dupuit had three goals: improve in English, experience the “American dream”and add another point to her ever-growing college resume.
In the same way that many Americans stereotype the French, Dupuit confesses she went into the adventure with most of her preconceived notions of America coming from high school movies like Mean Girls, High School Musical, and Clueless.
In reality, Dupuit has found a mix of truth and falsehoods. One of the most surprising revelations being American conduct. “French are very direct. We say what we mean, instead of here where people dance around the truth to protect people’s feelings,” Dupuit said.
Poway’s school culture also was starkly different from her private Catholic high school in Paris. Dupuit laments losing her French one hour lunch, but she has found joy in embracing school spirit and plentiful opportunities to participate in sports.
“I tried out for the dive team at the start of the third trimester and have already fallen in love with the sport. It’s something I never would have discovered in France,” Dupuit said.
The low point of the whole experience has been the food. American cafeteria food has not compared to the three-part entrees handed out in French cafeterias. They typically include a main course, a dessert, a drink, and a side of bread. According to Dupuit, everything is overly sweet and chemical tasting here.
Dupuit came to Poway with a group of other exchange students from across the globe. Through activities organized by their exchange program American Field Service (AFS), she has made close connections with junior Carminho Coelho, who hails from Portugal.
“We both came to the US with the same organization, and over the months we have spent in Poway together have become close friends, which is in part because we can relate to one another,” Coelho said.
She hopes to major in international business and sees the trip abroad as a good means to learn about other cultures. Despite enjoying her stay in America, Dupuit has ruled out attending college in the states. Her dream universities include KEDGE Business School in Marseilles and EDHEC Business School in Paris.
“I am not considering college in the United States because of the expense of being an international student . . . It doesn’t make sense because in France, most colleges are significantly cheaper,” Dupuit said.
In France, public university costs as little as 170 euros (about $184) per year for students from within the European Union, thanks in large part to government subsidies.