This past week, second year students learned of their placement for their third year abroad. Students from Sciences Po Menton will be everywhere from Lebanon to Indonesia, from Germany to Turkey for their 3A.
The decisions were revealed somewhat unceremoniously Monday afternoon, when a document disclosing the fate of all 1134 Sciences Po second year student who will study abroad next year was posted on the school’s website. As students all over Menton anxiously searched for their name on the list, cries of excitement filled the air. Friends embraced, students congratulated each other, and first years jealously looked on.
For one group of students, the answer waiting for them on the list was less than satisfactory. A group of students from the Menton campus has been working all year in preparation for the entrance exam to the Institut Francais du Proche-Orient (IFPO) in Beirut, a center known for its Arabic language program. However, due to complications with the entrance examination, all they found next to their names was “Tous départments (sous réserve des résultats d’examen)”, an indication that their plans were still unsettled and they would have to continue waiting.
Simon, one of the students hoping to go to IFPO, said “the extra day of waiting for results and other incidents during the application process strengthened my love/hate relationship with French bureaucracy.” However, it was soon revealed that all students who had applied to IFPO had passed the exam and would be going there next year. Despite his apparent annoyance, Simon admits he was very pleased with the result.
The broad geographic range of Menton students’ placements reflects the students’ equally diverse motivations for their choices. Rolf, who is heading to the American University of Kuwait, wants the chance to experience his family’s country for himself. “My mother is Kuwaiti but I never got to live in Kuwait.” Furthermore, he says he has always been interested in the region, especially the Gulf, Iraq, and Iran, and would like to study the political and economic relationships between these countries. He plans to take advanced Arabic, some political science and economics courses, and possibly Persian on the side.
Yasmeen, who will attend the American University of Beirut, is looking forward to living in Beirut, and she hopes to study philosophy. Alyette is headed to Palestine, where she hopes to improve her Arabic. Salma el-Mentoumi wants to perfect her English by the end of her year in Birmingham.
Still other students have more alternative plans for their third year. Orhan received a derogation to return to Turkey. He will be at Bogazici University in Istanbul, where he will study international relations and political science in preparation for taking a series of exams to work for the state. After his year of study, he will first sit a general exam taken by all those who wish to work for the state, taken in Turkish. If he passes this, he will be able to take a second exam for the Ministry of Foreign affairs, taken in French or English. At Bogazici, he will be joined by several other Menton students.
Though the period of waiting is over for many students, for those planning to do internships next year, uncertainty lingers. Though this group of second years has more freedom in their selection—they can go to multiple locations throughout their third year and work in a range of fields, while gaining work experience—they are expected to be largely independent in terms of arranging their internship.
I am a member of yet another group of students, those heading to New York as part of the Dual BA with Columbia. We will continue our undergraduate study for two more years, but have a wider range of subjects to choose from. Though New York is exciting, students in the Dual BA knew before coming to Sciences Po where they would end up next year. I must admit that I couldn’t help but feel a bit jealous of my friends who were just finding out where they would be going, and still more envious of those who will not have a single essay to write next year. On the plus side: couches waiting to be crashed from London to Kurdistan.
As difficult as it will be to leave the tight-knit Menton community, I am certain that a positive experience awaits every single student as they embark on their third year.