By May, Arnaud Valeille will have two master’s degrees and two PhDs in engineering and space science.
In between study sessions, he’s managed to squeeze in a Hawaiian Ironman triathlon, four nights of partying a week and road trips through 25 states.
The native Parisian and regular fixture at most campus parties who goes by the Facebook moniker “Arno Frenchie Bartender” doesn’t know what he’ll do with his education or where he’ll go next, but he said his main goal in life is to “keep moving.”
Valeille, who speaks French, English, German and Japanese, has an insatiable thirst for activity. Since he first arrived on campus three years ago, he has spent hours learning to unicycle in the basement of U. Towers. Valeille has also taught himself how to juggle and practices the Brazilian martial art of Jiu-Jitsu.
“I have to do something. I can’t wait for the bus doing nothing,” he said, pulling two striped hacky sacks out of his coat pocket. “Now I’m super patient. I can wait for hours, no worries.”
He cites travel as his favorite pastime. Just ask him how many countries he’s been to and he’ll shrug and point to a withered passport filled with stamps.
It’s “traveler’s luck” that makes it possible for him to have fun every day and stick out in people’s minds, he said. He said he spends most nights visiting multiple parties on campus, never staying in one spot for more than an hour.
“You’re new in a city, you ask people what’s going on,” he said. “Because you’re French, you have an accent, you don’t know a country. I’m a butterfly, I love to meet people.”
Valeille first experienced the Michigan social scene by stumbling across a chocolate pudding fight at “the Barn”, a party house on Hill Street and Oakland Avenue, during his door-to-door hunt for housing in 2005.
During his time at Michigan, Valeille has used his free time to travel, discovering the Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans, running the Detroit Marathon, spending Thanksgiving in South Africa and traveling to Montreal with the Michigan Snowboard Club.
“When you’re going somewhere new, you go there with curiosity,” he said. “I lived in Paris for 20 years and I never went to the Eiffel Tower. Every morning I could open my window and see it, but I never went, because I could go any day.”
Getting the most out of where you are is “just a state of mind,” he said.