Universities in France are a sad sight compared to American campuses. This building is the single location of Paris Dauphine, one of the more sought-after ordinary universities in France (i.e. it's not a grande école).
A girl I know from Paris, Laetitia, has been visiting a friend who is an exchange student here. They came for lunch and we ate outside on the terrace, amid the bougainvillea. It was hot, but they refused to let me open the sun umbrella. "On aime bien le soleil!"
They were both blown away by the American campuses. "They're so big and so beautiful!"
I had heard that HEC was a French school that had a pretty, American-style campus, but the girls poured scorn on this idea. "C'est tout petit! You can't compare it to USC, to UCLA... All the American campuses are nicer, even the small universities'."
"What do you think of the other students?" I asked.
"So diverse! They come from all over the world!" said Laetitia's friend. "But I am the youngest one. Most of them have had several years of work experience, but in France we go straight from university to business school."
I recalled the words of an American I met who had been teaching English at HEC. "The kids are all such babies compared to American students," he had said. "They go home to Mommy every weekend."
"I wish I could study here for a year or so," said Laetitia. "Or I could work here."
"You wouldn't get much vacation to enjoy it," I said. "Americans get one or two weeks a year."
"I wouldn't like that," said Laetitia. "I live for my summers in the South of France! But for a year it would be wonderful."