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CSUB alumnus turns novelist
  June 1, 2006
Mike Stepanovich, 661/654-2456,,
or Jaclyn Loveless, 661/654-2138,

A California State University, Bakersfield alumnus is back in town this week to sign copies of his novel that was inspired by his years at CSUB.

Paul Badeau, a native of France who spent six years at CSUB and earned a bachelor's degree in communications in 2002, is returning to his alma mater to promote his book titled "Culture Shock!" A reception and book-signing with the author is scheduled Tuesday (June 6) at Russo's Books in The Marketplace, 9000 Ming Ave., beginning at 5:30 p.m.

"Culture Shock!" is a sort of fish-out-of-water story about a group of international college students at an American university. The group's ringleader is Léo Ventais, who's smitten by a beautiful Dutch girl who won't give him the time of day because she's involved with someone else. Léo's roommate Antonio is having a torrid affair with a much older woman who has a feisty young daughter. Marilena, a tall Peruvian beauty, is having problems with immigration and will probably be deported. Juan, Tomás, and Gabriel are three brothers chasing after the same French girl while she experiences love for the first time in the arms of a student from the Ivory Coast. All in all, it's a comic escapade in the spirit of "Lost in Translation."

It also chronicles Badeau's experience as an undergraduate at CSUB. Born and raised in a small town about 45 minutes east of Paris, Badeau decided early on that he wanted to attend college in the United States. And Bakersfield had the size campus and the programs he was looking for.

One of his first memories of his arrival in Bakersfield was "learning how to avoid getting sprayed by water coming from underground. I later learned these things were called sprinklers."

He also befriended people from more than 40 countries.

Badeau didn't intend to write a book, but "as a foreign student in an All-American city I had tons of stories to tell. During all these years I never actually thought of formally writing a book about it. Rather, I'd collect anecdotes and ideas in a little notebook. I thought of it as a sitcom. In my mind what I was living felt like a cross between ‘Seinfeld' and ‘Friends' with a spicy international flavor – ‘Seinfeld' for the insanity and absurdity of certain situations and ‘Friends' for the soapy kind of context we lived in. Then one night I began writing a prologue. Six months later ‘Culture Shock!' was born."

While many people at CSUB provided inspiration for the book, the most inspirational were "first and foremost my fellow international students.

People who are familiar with the CSUB campus will surely recognize real people, but my goal was to write a novel, so I blurred everything – names, places, personalities. I had a lot of fun in the process. But of course, I couldn't resist adding a few cameos."

Among his many memories of his college days in Bakersfield was one of a Japanese student freshly arrived from his home country. "We were at a party, and he was quite drunk. To top it off he didn't speak English very well yet, so he was hanging out with his tutor, a guy from Bakersfield who spoke fluent Japanese. The thing is, aside from his speaking Japanese, the tutor was the quintessential redneck with no front teeth and an obsession with Buck Owens.

"The tutor kept on insisting the Japanese student sing ‘The Streets Of Bakersfield' along with him. The poor student tried hard impersonating the Bakersfield twang, but as you can imagine the result was more hilarious than successful."

Badeau, who works as a public relations consultant, now splits his time between France and the United States.