May 4th, 2021, 09:50 PM

AUP in the 90s

By Isabella Bosco
Image credit: Isabella Bosco
An interview with my Dad, an AUP Alumnus, shows how much our university has changed.

My dad’s first impression of AUP was through a little office in New York City squashed between Broadway and Astor Place where he dropped off his application. The year was 1992 and at this point, there was no common app, no Facebook group of incoming students but instead, he first met his fellow classmates on the plane from New York to Paris. He tells me AUP used to organize flights so that incoming students could travel together. My dad vividly remembers my teary-eyed grandmother waving him off as he embarked on that plane to Paris. 

Image credit: Isabella Bosco


In the two years at AUP, my dad was an International Economics student. Before the Comforts of Home or Blue Stripe, most students would stay at the Cité-Universitaire. My dad’s first apartment was on the Rue des Rosier, which at the time was “less trendy” than it is now and was just a small Jewish neighborhood. At some point, he had moved to Versailles where he stayed with a family friend and saved his money to buy an old beat-up car. “Not many people owned a car, and those who did had a lot nicer cars than me,” he says. His commute would consist of driving to the RER C at Versaille and then getting off at Metro Pont d’Alma. 

Image credit: Isabella Bosco


Back then, the main building was at Avenue Bosquet which is where the majority of classes took place and was home to the original Amex Cafe. The Amex and the mailboxes used to be side-by-side in this building. Before cellphones, getting letters from your family was the main way of communicating with them. You’d grab your mail and then head to the Amex to catch up with friends.

The Amex was known for throwing big events. American underground bands on tour would sometimes even play at the Amex. Looking through the Yearbook at the AUP library, 1992-93 at AUP seemed to host many fun events. But AUP as an institution was a lot less organized, my dad recalls. While this had some perks, it was much harder to integrate into French society. It was difficult to get a job as an English speaker, as Paris was a lot more “French” in the 90s. It was hard to find people that spoke English, and there was even French currency the Franc! 

Image credit: Isabella Bosco


My dad and his friends would make some extra money by organizing parties, renting the venue, buying the food and alcohol, and then inviting people from school, passed out flyers at Chatelet, and then made sure they made the money back by Monday when the checks cleared. People can party at any school, but if my dad couldn’t find work, he improvised by throwing parties. 

The 90s were a year of liberation. The Berlin wall had just fallen in '89, The Yugoslav wars had opened up a lot of Eastern Europe that had been unseen by many of the West. My dad’s most memorable trip was a road trip to Eastern Europe with his friends. “You felt like it was another world,” he tells me.

In times like these, where even leaving your apartment seems to be a privilege, it's nice to look back and think about what Paris and AUP were like in the 90s.