The most significant events

Les évènements les plus marquants

admission at MIT, the trip to France, the trip to
birth, falling in love, heartbreak, college.
coming to MIT, starting ballroom dancing, meeting
my girlfriend, moving to America
comming to MIT.
deciding where to go to college.
entering university as an undergraduate and studying
at MIT for a doctoral degree.
getting accepted to college, and my first kiss.
getting admitted to MIT
going to college.
going to MIT
graduating from high school., coming to MIT in Cambridge.

having a relationship with God, sharing with family,
progressing in school
here at MIT.
learning about technology and going to MIT.
meeting my best friend, winning medals on competitions,
my schools, my frat
moving countries and getting accepted to MIT
moving to California, then coming to MIT.
my birth
my graduation
related to my studies or my romantic life.
scholarships, travels, relationships
switching schools for high school, standing with friends
on the roof of a hotel, fighting with a friend
the evening I found out I got into MIT, the day my
robot worked correctly.
the times I spent getting to know my closest friends.

when I've worked hard to meet a goal that I've set
for myself

des événements privés et sans
interêt pour les autres
difficilement singularisable

l'amour en générale.
l'année de mes 18 ans
la classe prépa,
la lecture de certains livres, la liste étant
trop longue pour être mentionnée.
la prise de conscience du caractère relatif
de toute connaissance, ma première rencontre avec une toile de
les bons moments avec mes amis et ma famille et mes
réussites (obtention du BAC, intégration de l'INT)
les concours aux Grandes Ecoles et mon entré
à l'INT, la sortie de mon premier disque et puis quelque chose
dont je n'ai pas envie de parler ici.
les réussites de mes frères et soeurs,
ma réussite
ma naissance
ma naissance
ma naissance
ma naissance, mon premier amour
ma premiers copine (et oui ... je suis romantique)

ma vie
marquants, sans aucun doute.
mon année au Canada
mon premier amour, mon premier job
premier vol en avion, saut en parapente, première
plongée en bouteille
quand un chien enragé m'a attaqué...

quelques voyages, la prépa, l'arrivée
dans cette école, entre autres.
remise des diplômes
une surprise d'anniversaire, des voyages


Hello INT students!

I noticed that in the questionnaire responses, a french student mentioned that he/she spent a year in Canada.

Although I study in the United States, I was born and raised in Canada.

If you are the student who spent a year in Canada, I would love to hear a little bit about your Canadian experience.



Hello Allan,

Me again...I spent a year in Canada when I was in high-school through the Rotary Youth Exchange Program (from August 1996 to September 1997). I lived in four different hostfamilies in Ridgetown,Ont.and attended highschool in Ridgetown (well let's say I didn't attended school that much, I had many more interesting things to do!).

I really enjoyed this experience because I think it gave me a rather different opinion of Canada and North-America in general. As my Rotary district was part American and part Canadian I had many opportunities to visit Michigan, meet American students, teachers and hostfamilies and I think I learned a lot more about th US while talking with them than through American TV or magazines.

I also did a lot of tourism and visited Ottawa (I loved this place!), Toronto, Quebec, New England (I went skiing in Maine and NewHampshire, it was quite different from the Alps...), Arizona (Phoenix, th Grand Canyon, Flagstaff...), Kentucky...

That's it! If you want to hear more about my trip, I'd be delighted to help you


P.S: Sorry I wrote in English, I just have problems with accents in French and I'm afraid my French messages are going to be impossible to read.


I'm delighted to hear that you enjoyed your time in Canada.

However, since I was born and raised in Toronto, I must say that I am disappointed that you seem to have enjoyed Ottawa more than Toronto :-). Ottawa is so boring; it's just Parliament Hill (those federal government buildings) and the National Gallery of Art that contains a few pieces of Canadian art. By French standards, I'm sure that this gallery is uninteresting.

I'd be curious to hear more about your time in Toronto, and Ontario in general. Also, did you enjoy Montreal and Quebec City. I think the "vieux cartier" in Quebec City is as European as North America gets. Also, I spent two years studying in Montreal before coming to the United States, so I would love to hear what you did in Montreal.

One final question. Did people mention anything to you about De Gaulle's "Vive le Montreal, Vive le Quebec, Vive le Quebec libre" when you were in Canada? This was a significant event in 20th century Quebec politics. However, let's try to keep discussions about Quebec politics to a minimum.

Meilleurs Souhaites,


Good Day INT students,

Good job to Allan and Prune for their rather useful contributions to this analysis! To pick up from where they left off…

Academic events, romance and travels topped the American list. On the French side, "académiques", "aventure/voyages", "la naissance" and "roman" topped the list. Very consistent with the responses for a good student, the Americans had more than twice as many memorable academic events than the French.

I also noticed that there were 4 responses of "la naissance". I was wondering what these meant. Is it the actual birth or the birthdays that are memorable?

There were also 6 responses that would not say what this special event was. Are the French shy/secretive in general? Or was it coincidence that 6/26 responses came out this way?

Thanks Regina


I had the same question as Regina about the meaning of "la naissance". I was surprised about how many of these responses came up. I mean, if it the actual birth, then yes, I agree, it is a siginificant event. But many of the Americans tend to oversee that. Maybe because it is an event that they didn't contribute to, if you know what I mean. For example, many of the MIT students said that their most significant event was getting into MIT. This is because it was one of the greatest things that they achieved. I think most Americans view siginificant events as something they have achieved, more than some event that just happened, as, for example, their birth. =)


      For Americans, moving was a common significant event. I think it's interesting that


was not a big event in most French students' lives – or at least, according to the survey. Do French people normally move around the country (due to jobs or family, for example)? (I suppose that since we are all students, most of us didn't actually make any decisions to move. Parents did that. :) Due to the shear size of the US, different parts of the country are different from other parts. The place where you live may determine your political affiliation (Democrat or Republican, for example) or even what sports you play. Are different parts of France vastly different from each other? That is, do the northern and southern parts (or western versus eastern parts) of France have noticeably distinct cultures?


Hello again,

     I had two quick questions:

1) In the French column,


appears more times than


whereas in the American column,




appear about the same number of times. In general, do French students consider one more "significant" than the other, or was the list simply not comprehensive?

2) Just curious. This question is for the French student who wrote "l'annee de mes 18 ans." Why, in particular, do you consider this to be your most significant event?


Cher Allan,

Je comprends que tu t'étonnes de ma préférence pour Ottawa plutôt que Toronto, et je n'avais pas l'intention de vexer qui que ce soit en disant cela. La principale raison pour laquelle j'ai beaucoup apprécié Ottawa est que cette ville a un petit coté français, ou du moins européen. J'y suis allée au printemps 1997 et c'était la première fois depuis l'été précédent que je pouvais m'assoir à la terrasse d'un café sympa, profiter de la vie "provinciale", acheter des journaux en Français et des tonnes de tablettes de chocolat (j'en veux à mort au Canadiens et au Américains de m'avoir privée de ma nourriture favorite pendant si longtemps!! :-)).

J'ai aussi apprécié Toronto, j'ai visité les sites classiques comme la grande tour (désolée je ne me rappelle plus son nom exact), le musée de Toronto (qui est formidable), c'était très interessant mais Toronto est une ville trop grande, trop pleine de voitures pour moi.

Je pense que tu es un peu dur avec les intérêts touristiques d'Ottawa. C'est vrai que le Parlement n'a rien d'une merveille architecturale, mais par contre on y apprend énormément sur l'histoire du Canada (enfin comme tu es Canadien c'est vrai que tu dois déjà connaître). C'était quelque chose d'important pour moi parce qu'en France on apprend beaucoup de choses sur l'histoire, la géographie et l'économie des Etats-Unis, et quasiment rien sur le Canada alors que c'est tout aussi interessant (mais bon c'est vrai qu'on ne peux pas étudier tous les pays non plus!). Et puis le musée des civilisations d'Ottawa est vraiment passionant (en particulier tout ce qui a trait à l'art Inuit, on a rarement l'occasion de voir ce genre de choses en France).

En ce qui concerne Montréal, je n'y ait passé que trois jours alors je n'ai sans doute pas tout vu. C'est une ville très agréable, j'ai beaucoup aimé l'architecture particulière qu'ont les maisons, avec tous les escaliers extérieurs qui vont directement au premier étage. Il y avait le festival de jazz à ce moment là, et j'étais avec des amis de l'Université de McGill alors j'ai passé la plupart du temps à sortir et à aller à des concerts avec eux.

En ce qui concerne la fameuse phrase du Général de Gaulle, j'en ai beaucoup entendu parlé lorsque j'étais au Canada. Comme je vivais dans une région totalement anglophone, les réactions n'étaient pas très très positives!!! Je ne m'attendais pas à ce genre d'animosité vis à vis des Quebecois. Je pense que les Canadiens font preuve de beaucoup de lassitude vis à vis de ce problème qui existe depuis très longtemps et qui n'a toujours pas été résolu. C'est un peu le même problème qu' en France avec la Corse. Pour ce qui est de cette phrase je ne pense pas qu'elle était très opportune (après tout c'est un problème qui concerne uniquement les Canadiens, ce n'était pas ses oignons!!!)mais il faut savoir que de gaulle était particulièrement chauviniste et qu'il devait sans doute regretter le temps où Quebec était une province française!!!!

Voilà, à bientôt!!!

Good Day INT students,

I posted the questions below almost a week ago. I'm reposting them since I got no responses to them. Would some kind person please get back to me.

I also noticed that there were 4 responses of "la naissance". I was wondering what these meant. Is it the actual birth or the birthdays that are memorable and why so?

There were also 6 responses that would not say what this special event was. Are the French shy/secretive in general? Or was it coincidence that 6/26 responses came out this way?



Salut Régina! Je suis désolée que tu n'es pas reçu de réponse rapidement. Cette semaine, nous n'avons pas cours car toute l'école participe à des projets de création d'entreprise. Nous sommes par équipe de cinq et il faut créer sa propre boite. Les élèves ont donc moins de temps libre que d'habitude (enfin, du moins ceux qui jouent vraiment le jeu)

Pour répondre à ta première question: si les étudiants ont répondu "naissance", c'est vraiment de ce moment qu'il s'agit, et non des anniversaires en général. Honnetement, ça me parait un peu étrange comme réponse car on ne s'en souvient pas et donc on ne peut pas vraiment dire que c'est un événement marquant, même si inconsciemment ça conditionne toute notre vie. J'espère qu'une des personnes qui a répondu cela va se manifester pour s'expliquer. Sinon, pour les anniversaires, on les fête quand on est enfant avec ses copains lors de "goûters d'anniversaire", puis on passe aux "boums" vers 12 ans puis des soirées. Quand on grandit, on peut se réunir entre amis, c'est un moyen de se retrouver. A mon anniversaire, je vais par exemple au restaurant avec deux amies qui ont suivi des cursus scolaires différents du mien depuis le lycée, et on réserve cette date tous les ans. Les grandes soirées sont plutôt pour les 18 et 20 ans (ou 21, age de l'ancienne majorité en france), puis tous les 5 cinq ans.

Pour les réponses nulles, c'est peut-être parce que cela touche des événements très personnels comme un premier amour, une perte et que les gens préfèrent garder ça pour eux. On n'a pas l'habitude de se confier à n'importe qui, peut être que les étudiants n'ont pas voulu trop se dévoiler sans savoir qui allait lire cela. Peut-être que tu peux reposer la question maintenant qu'on se connait un peu plus pour comparer les réponses. Mais là encore, ce serait mieux d'avoir le commentaire de quelqu'un qui n'a pas répondu.

Voilà on ne vous a pas oublié!! A bientôt, Sophie

Hi, I have a question in response to the word completion response about things that are kept private. I know that there are a lot of things in our lives that we would rather not share with the rest of the world, and that is part of what makes us who we are. My question is, in France, do people generally open up to others often. If so how much do you need to know someone before you feel comfortable enough to talk more freely about your life? Thanks


While I don't want to make any broad, sweeping statements about American students, I would say that many (including myself) spent a fair amount of their high school education thinking about getting into college. I was reminded of this when I noticed that just about everyone considered getting into MIT to be a significant event in his or her life. There were not nearly as many French students who considered college acceptance to be this significant. I also thought it was interesting that French student's significant events included family and friends more so than Americans. I was wondering if anyone wanted to comment on this disparity.


Allison G

Hello all,

I must apologize, but I would once again like to ask Prune questions about her trip to Canada. I would send her e-mail, but Mme Levet told me that she would prefer that all interaction take place on the forum. At the same time (Regina), I am sure that it is not a great hardship to put up with these messages once in a while. Again, I am sorry, but I am also fascinated that a French student decided to spend a year in Canada.

So Prune, first I was surprised about your statements on Ottawa because I know that you can buy French magazines like Paris Match, L'express and Le nouvel observateur as well as cholocate like Lindt, or those tasty Belgian shells, in Toronto. What chocolate were you simply not able to buy in Toronto and Ridgetown?

Oh, and that big tower is called "The CN Tower". CN stands for Canadian National tower. Canadian National is a government-run company that built the railroad tracks in Canada.

Moving along, I was also wondering what attracted you to Canada and motivated you to live there for one year. Was it anything about Canada in particular, or were you simply interested in the North America and Canada was the only option?

I am glad to see that you met people from McGill. From September 1998 to May 2000, I was a student at McGill university! I transfered to MIT in Fall 2000 to complete my undergraduate studies. Did you walk around the McGill campus? Did you go up Mount Royal? Unfortunately, I was never in Montreal for the Jazz festival.

You are correct when you say that the Quebec situation is not being well resolved. However, when you have a minority of about 10% to %20 that absolutely hates Anglophone Canda and wants to separate, this issue will never really go away. If you like, I'll comment more on this situation another time.


Hey Allan and Prune, I have absolutely no problem with your conversation about Canada. I was just joking (being sarcastic) when I commented on it. I'm sorry it came through differently. I thought it was funny the way you guys took off and started talking about Canada. Thanks.


Hello once again,

Ok, I am now ready to make a comment on something that isn't related to Prune's trip. More specifically, I just wanted to make a quick comment about Allison's message #12.

Just because fewer French students didn't discuss college acceptance in their forum does not mean that they took their high school studies less seriously. Consider my story:

In high school, I tried hard to get accepted into an American university, but I was unsuccessful. So, once I was enrolled in my Canadian university (which are easier to get into), if you would have asked me what was the most significant event in my life, I would not have felt compelled to discuss my university acceptance, even though I took university admission very seriously in high school. This may be one reason why the disparity appeared.

In any event, there are many other different reasons why a French student who took university admissions seriously in high school might not have mentioned this in the questionnaire.

And finally, not to put too fine a point on it, but I suspect that there is a modicum of that MIT 'elitist' attitude in Allison's message. Judging by the messages written by the French students, I can tell that they are very smart. Therefore, there is no reason to suspect that the French students took their high school studies less seriously than we did.


Hello again,

A few days ago, I asked if a French student could translate the following expressions:

"Ou l'on chope" (A fun party forum) "bluedot" (United States forum)

I would greatly appreciate if a French student could provide a translation.



Rebonjour tout le monde. Voici un sujet bien interessant: les evenements les plus marquants... Voila un vaste sujet quand on a que 21 ans et que l'on a encore tant de choses a vivre. Mais bon il semble que tout le monde n'ai pas eu trop de mal a repondre. En core une fois, on peut prendre pleinement conscience de la difference de mentalite qui existe entre la France et les USA. Les americains attachent beaucoup d'importance a leurs etudes, alors que les francais quand a eux, un peu plus reveurs, se mettent a parler d'amour, de la vie en general, de philosophie, de la famille... On se rend bien compte que Pascal, Descartes, Rousseau, etc... sont nés quelque part entre Marseilles et Lille. Finalement les français n'ont pas trop évolués en quelques siècles et tant mieux.

I don't want to dwell on the last comment I made, as it was really not that interesting, but I fear that a combination of poor writing on my part and misinterpretation on the part of others has led to some comments that are completely inaccurate. Among them, the most mystifying include my insinuations that French students don't take their studies seriously, and my elitist sentiments. I understand that just because French students don't consider their college acceptance to be one of the most important things in their lives, doesn't mean that they don't take education seriously. It only means that there are other things in their lives that are more important than their studies. The reason I found this to be interesting is that many MIT students, as they near graduation, comment on how they wish they had spent more time with friends and made more time for their families. In general, MIT students (this is a personal opinion, of course) have a difficult time finding a good balance. They may study hard, but end up ignoring family and friends to do so. In some strange and unhealthy way, this is kind of accepted as "normal" here. Is this the case at INT? or would you say that students there have a better grasp on how to balance school and personal life?

thanks. Allison


I should start off by offering you an apology.

In hindsight, my message #15 was too strongly worded. All I wanted to do was remark that it is possible for a person to take his/her studies as seriously as an MIT students, but at the same time not mention it in the forum. I also wanted to say something along of the lines of "be careful, it is possible that your wording might lead one to believe that you think MIT students are more serious than others, which I know isn't the case".

However, in this case, writing that aggressive message was not the proper way for me to behave. Again, I apologize.