I put on the polyester robe, sat through three hours of speeches and mispronounced names. I even wore the silly hat (which, I'm sorry, are the absolute worst - they seriously don't look good on anyone. Especially if you have bangs.) Despite the unfortunate wardrobe, it was ultimately a meaningful event, and I was so glad to be reunited with my classmates, many of whom I hadn't seen in over a year.
In case you were at all curious, the word "graduation" does exist in French. But it is more often referred to as a "cérémonie de remise des diplômes" - because, as usual, the French have five words to describe something that can generally be said in one word in English.
All this pomp and circumstance is completely foreign to the French. As my Parisian friends pointed out, the concept of a graduation ceremony is something they only recognize from American movies (the same holds true for red solo cups.) One of my french friends even asked to try on my cap and gown just for fun, it was such an amusing concept to him.
Le Monde (essentially the French version of The New York Times) wrote a piece on the event for their website, and conducted several student interviews. I was lucky enough to be interviewed, and if you watch the slide show they posted, I'm the first voice over you hear (in really fast, grammatically incorrect French.)
You can also check out the article published in the Education section of LeMonde.fr.
I'm quoted as saying the following (which I'm pretty sure I didn't really say...mais bon, I can't complain, I was just excited to be interviewed!):
"Le lien communautaire est mis en avant par tous. "Nous sommes devenus très proches, et c'est très joyeux aujourd'hui. Tout le monde est très heureux de partager ce moment avec leurs amis et leur famille", affirme de son côté Carolyn Englar, une Américaine revenue de son stage à New York pour l'occasion."
TRANSLATION: "The community link is highlighted by all. "We became very close, and are very happy to be here today. Everyone is very happy to share this moment with their friends and family," said Carolyn Englar, an American who returned from her internship in New York for the occasion."