The Friday before classes started, we had our orientation at Sciences Po. Do you remember the painful small talk of the first week on university that left everyone wanting to print the answers to the generic questions on a T-Shirt? Eventually it starts to sound like some sort of Academics Anonymous meeting; ‘Hi, my name is Hebe, I’m from Salisbury (continues to explain where that is) and I study social science.’. It’s fine, it has to be done, but I was not looking forward to doing it all over again. Thankfully, no one else did as the majority of students had been through it once before.
At summer school the answers to those questions are 10 times more interesting as students come from all over the globe. (I think the students studying in July come from around 23 different countries). So the small talk didn’t last long and we all got stuck into the nerdy conversations that would continue for the next month. Given that I arrived just a week after the referendum, that was a pretty good conversation starter! My introduction quickly became ‘Hi, I’m Hebe from the UK, but don’t worry, I voted remain’. Within my first hour I had met a group of students from Mexico, Lebanon, the USA, Australia, Canada, China and Malaysia and chatted about where and how we grew up, what had brought us to Sciences Po and a multitude of other intriguing subjects.
Following orientation we were led to a river boat cruise. I suppose everyone was in the same boat (pardon the pun) and eager to meet people to feel slightly more, well… orientated. The conversation continued and didn’t actually stop until about midnight as we were sitting on the banks of the seine with a bottle (or maybe two) of wine.
All in all, what could have been a fairly daunting experience was amazing and the second I met my classmates I felt so much more settled. Tips for future students? You have nothing to be nervous about! You are all in the same place at the same time doing something similar, so its near impossible not to meet like minded people. As we got to know one another better, the general consensus was that most were concerned their classmates would be all work and no play. This is definitely not the case as everyone I have met so far is equally excited by an original Monet, as they are by half price cocktails in happy hour.