Let’s take a journey back in time to when you were a jittery high school senior fretting over college applications. Between juggling your ten thousand different extra-curricular activities and too many AP classes, you had to fill out the multitude of college applications in hopes to of getting accepted into the college of your choosing. Most importantly, you cannot forget the about the FASFA and the CSS Profile, which asked a million and ten questions to see if you qualified for financial aid. With all the stress of writing those various college essays, you probably created a standard format and added specific detail depending on the college you were sending your essay to. So do you remember what you told the Admissions Office of why you wanted to study at Boston University?
If you suddenly realize you have a lapse in your memory don’t freak out, most students around campus have probably forgotten what they wrote on their admissions essay. However, I can recall perfectly what I scribed on my computer’s word processor. I remember drafting up ideas that would make my answer unique and hopefully catch the eye of the admissions rep reading my essay. I knew that prospective students were mostly likely writing that they wanted to attend Boston University because it was in a major metropolitan area, that it was a research intensive institution, or even because BU had a plethora of resources to offer its students. My essay not only needed to be atypical, but it also needed to represent who I was as an individual. After some time of introspection I realized that above anything else I valued civil rights and equal justice. This couples well with my idol and role model Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. When I found out that MLK graduated from BU, I knew instantly of why I wanted to attend Boston University. I wanted to walk the very same hallways that Dr. King once passed through and be in the presence of his legacy. I knew that as an alumnus of BU, I would have the one in a life time opportunity of fulling Dr. King’s dream.
Though I have come to love BU, recently I was reminded of exactly why I wanted to attend this fine institution. Most people don’t know that the largest collection of Dr. King artifacts, second to that of King’s family, is here at BU. In 1964, MLK donated his papers and personal memorabilia to Boston University so that they could be safely preserved throughout the years. The Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center has done an excellent job of giving BU students exclusive access to the King Collection. Each year the center opens it doors to lets students hold and analyze a small sample of Dr. King’s pictures, letters, and papers. Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to partake in the HGARC annual MLK showcase, and it was completely magical. When I put the white gloves necessary to touch the historic documents and flipped through Dr. King’s college notebooks I was in complete reverence. I got to hold the first picture taken of him when arrived at Boston University. The most incredible artifact I glanced at was the note Rosa Parks sent to King. No other school in the United States or abroad could have offered me what I experienced being in front of King’s papers. As I walked out the exhibit, I looked over to my mentor Ms. Katherine Kennedy, Director of the Howard Thurman Center, and said, “This is exactly why I wanted to come to BU.” Her tenderly smile reaffirmed that I had made the right decision in coming to Boston University.
Here at BU and especially at ASDB we strive to highlight the differences that we all have in order to learn from each other and celebrate those differences. At first glance, it might seem that all we’re talking about it race and color, but it is so much more than that. At BU I’ve been able to express myself with the support of my peers and professors…
This semester, I started a Francophone Association with my friends that would serve as a revival of the old French Club but with a new and more open minded twist. The word “Francophone” includes all french speaking peoples from all over the world i.e. Algeria, Haiti, Canada… etc. As a Chinese-American with family living in France, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find my “niche” at BU and through this process, I’ve realized that there doesn’t have to be just one place for me to “belong.” At BU there are no “average students.” This club has reached many different people from extremely diverse backgrounds and although we all speak french, the other aspects of our lives bring in a lot of fascinating conversations about culture that are not confined to just the country of France. In the few weeks that this club has been around, I have met french speakers from Singapore, China, France, and Puerto Rico who were all interested in the Francophone Association.
As we dive into a new year and a new semester, I hope that I can continue to meet new people through the Francophone Association and the whole BU community. Though we might become too busy, or too stressed to be involved, I feel that the people I meet at BU teach me just as much as my professors do in the classroom. And so my new years resolution is to stay open minded and active in order to meet new people and expand my own views.
Bonjour tout le monde! My name is Alberto Medina Jr, I am a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences double majoring in Biology/Pre-Med and French! I am originally from El Paso, TX and boy is this blizzard something! Definitely not like the desert!
Anyway, one thing I love to talk about is diversity and culture, and what a better way to do that than to go abroad! One of the main reasons I chose to attend Boston University was for its amazing study abroad programs! Ever since middle school, I was very interested in the French culture and the language and chose to continue pursuing it up until college, which explains the major. I had the two most best experiences of my life through this amazing resource we have on campus. Two years ago I had the opportunity to go to Grenoble, France where I did one of our pre-med science programs at the university Joseph Fourrier. Most people do not get to go abroad sophomore year, but this program is specifically designed for pre-med students who need to take certain science courses, such as Cell Biology and Organic Chemistry. I took four classes, all in English (I mean let’s be honest, organic chemistry is already hard in English…imagine taking it in a foreign language!). What was even more exciting was the fact that we had actual French students in our classes! I definitely felt like I was incorporated into the culture, more so when I stayed with a host family. I lived with a single mom and her 12 year old son, they were sweet and quite accommodating. I also had a small internship in a chemistry lab where chemists were doing research for synthetic drugs on how to combat cancerous cells. Overall, the experience was inevitably amazing!
This past semester, I had the second opportunity to go abroad…again! Like I said I was obsessed with France and what better way to indulge than to go to Paris, the city of love! This time around I did the Paris Internship Program, where I took three classes (all in French) and then the second half of the semester consisted of an internship. The classes were great! It is awesome that this program provides all your courses in french! If it didnt, then the point of coming here would just be to live in Paris for a semester. People need to know that just because it’s abroad it doesn’t mean all fun and games and easy grades. Not at all! Everything is in french! You study in french, live in french, and eventually work in french. People also need to have at least 4 semesters of french in order to be eligible for the program. That said, since you only take 3 courses the first half, that means that a semester’s worth of material is squished into half of the semester. Not to panic though! It’s reasonable and up to BU standards, so no surprise there
This time I stayed with an older French lady who lives literally 10 minutes away from the Eiffel Tower, I could actually see it from the living room, the view was AMAZING. I am quite comfortable as BU carefully selects who the hosts can be for the program. A cultural difference is definitely table manners, especially at dinner. For example, one does not put their elbows on the table back in the US, here it necessary. It is like a symbol of showing your presence at the table and that you are involved in the diner and conversation. Another difference is that you don’t start eating until everyone has been served. I really like it, much nicer that the American way of eating as soon as you get served and not being mindful of everyone else in the table.
As for my internship, I interned at the French-British Hospital L’Institut Hospitalier Franco-britannique, where I shadowed several pediatricians in, well of course, the pediatrics department! It was beyond awesome! I love kids! I hope to one day become a pediatrician myself. This experience exposed me to my first hospital setting and I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. When I went abroad the first time, in Grenoble, I realized that the lab setting was not for me. I’m too social and need interaction with others to be locked away in a lab the whole day. I hope to take this experience as a step towards achieving my career goals of going to med school at some point. This is why I think internships and programs like these are so important. You won’t know what you do or don’t like, what will fit or won’t fit you, unless you try it and give it a shot. We can always learn from all types of situations.
Overall, it was also an inevitably amazing experience! It was my dream ever since I was young to one day live in this wonderful city and get to experience everything it has to offer. Differences are that everything is smaller, yet bigger in a sense. The cars are smaller, streets are narrower, people are tinier (lol) and then there’s everything else that’s bigger/longer: like the nights out, the monuments, and diners. Things just work differently in Paris (and Europe in general) there’s a much more “relaxed” style of living here, even with the busy metropolitan setting. I feel like the American lifestyle can be a vicious and repetitive cycle, whereas the French style is a more relaxed, spontaneous, and more flexible cycle. I like the change it is like a breath of fresh air.
The people here are different form those in Boston, who are then different from those in Texas. In Texas you have the southern hospitality feeling, whereas in the Northeast you have less of that. In Paris, you get a mix of both, a lot of people think that the french are mean, cold, and rude, which is plain stereotyping! You can’t really understand the culture until you have actually lived in it. Parisians are definitely different from the rest of the French though, especially with their chic and egocentric personalities (haha). I definitely tried to hang out and talk to Parisians, it is just a little harder when you’re older. The French have three types of friends by the time they are about 24: their grade school friends, their college friends, and their work friends. Once they have come to this age, it is harder for them to go out and about and make new ones; they’re set to go. This therefore implies more effort on the American part to be social and friendly, but definitely not impossible! You just have to put yourself out there a little more and chat someone up you find at a restaurant, bar, or wherever.
EVERYONE NEEDS TO STUDY ABROAD AT LEAST ONCE. It is a life changing experience and literally the best 4 months of your life. You will love it. Tips for people considering going abroad is that it isn’t always for everyone. You have to have an open mind, be ready to accept challenges, and be comfortable being out of your comfort zone, ironic huh? (haha) Like I said, everything is French, which can be frustrating at times, especially when you need to communicate with someone or express yourself and you can’t exactly always have the perfect words. But it gets better! Also, don’t always have the best expectations for everything, my experience here was very lucky, but not everyone gets the same package and experience (obviously). Some people live 30 minutes away from the BU center in Paris, whereas I live a couple of minutes away. Some people got an internship in fashion, I got mine in a hospital. It is different for everyone. On that note, don’t compare yourself with others, it is not worth it because you are two different people, with two different experiences. You have to MAKE your experience, it doesn’t just come all on its own. You have to be ready to take that extra mile sometimes and put yourself out there, just like you did when you were a freshman coming to college for the first time :)
Lots of love guys! And never forget, everything happens for a reason!