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Humans of CSU: Coming to Colorado from France

Humans of CSU

Editor’s note: Like Humans of New York’s “daily glimpses into the lives of strangers on the streets,” Humans of CSU tells the stories of the people who populate our campus. Written by Collegian staff and told in first person from the subject’s point of view, this series aims to make each individual on campus relatable.


Editor’s note: This interview was conducted before the terrorist attacks in Paris. The interview subject declined to comment about the tragedy in a follow-up interview.

I am from around Lyon, France, and I moved to Paris for my last year of my bachelor’s studies and my graduate studies at the École Normale Supérieure, and I was also enrolled at Sorbonne University.

(Photo Credit: Megan Fischer)
(Photo Credit: Megan Fischer.)

I came to the U.S. twice for internships during my master’s degree — one internship each year. The first one was in Boulder and the second one was in Fort Collins.

I had to come back here because I fell in love with Colorado, I fell in love with an American and I also fell in love with the American academia. The work environment that I want — it’s the American way of doing it, not the French way.

Our bachelor’s is three years, a master’s is two years and a Ph.D. is three years. It’s very rigid. You cannot take an extra semester. It’s just one year after the other, and if you fail one year, you just have to retake it.

Sometimes I don’t understand why it’s so rigid. How could you possibly know if your research is going to be productive enough to be done in three years?

It’s less strict in the sense that universities in France are generally smaller, and teachers can know their students.

Then I applied for a Ph.D. and I got it. I applied to a lot of schools and I got a lot of yeses and so I had to choose. I think the mountains, forests and lakes of Colorado mattered a lot for that choice. It’s what I know from America.

I get really sick of what I’m doing if I stay on it for too long, so I try to always have my hands on several things. I’m probably going to try to collaborate on microseisms caused by hurricanes with the department of geology here.


Eventually, I had to be in the U.S., for love, for Colorado, for academia, and the easiest way to do that was to get a Ph.D.

I’m only three months in to my research. I still have to shape it and develop my own topic. The program is very well-shaped to enable and improve one’s self-learning skills. I think it’s very well-designed to make one grow as a scientist.

France feels smaller. Not just people, cars and houses, but even the landscape and the sky is smaller in France. The sky is big here. CSU’s campus is the size of a village in France.

It feels good that there is so much space and you can breathe. There’s not tall buildings all the way up to the sky like in Paris.

Colorado doesn’t live up to the American stereotype that we French people sometimes have, which would be long straight roads, with a fast-food restaurant and a gas station here and there. It’s different here. It’s way more European-like than I would have thought.

I will never regret the choice of moving here. I moved here because I lived in France for about 22 years and I think that’s enough. I want to expand my horizons because life is more enjoyable if you move around.

Collegian staff can be reached at

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