This essay is by Angel Salas, a scholarship applicant for the Fall 2013 Paris Unraveled Scholarship. If you like Angel’s essay, please comment and share this post on social media to help him win. The Paris Unraveled Scholarship’s deadline is October 15, 2013, and you can download the application here.
As a child, I always had a sort of hobby: I loved making connections and theories in my head. I naturally created crazy stories as to why something was the way it was, and how was it that it came to be that way.
Let’s take for example words.
I grew up as a bilingual English and Spanish speaker, and whenever I heard a word in Spanish I always tried to relate it to a word in English or vice versa. Ayuda to me always looked like aide and army looked like armada. This hobby of connections never really left me, and when I was 14 I started teaching myself French. This “connection obsession” helped me pick out French words already embedded in the English language or words that had a comment ancestry with Spanish.
This connection-making process spilt over to various other areas of my life and while I created some crazy theories it also helped me realize that I was making these connections because I wanted to reach out. I wanted to meet new people, and see the world from a different view. I was maybe even a bit bored with reality. I was bored and tired of going through an assembly line of mass-produced, stressed-out high school seniors worrying about SAT scores, colleges, tuitions, and future jobs.
So I avoided it all and took a gap year to Poland.
I soon realized I could not avoid it forever and I had to start thinking about college. The problem was I had an constant anxiety reminding me I was going to have to pay a fortune to attend a regular university that would finally only lead to a regular job.
My goal was simple: I wanted to receive a great education, but I did not want want sell my kidneys to do so. So what did I do? I thought and thought.
And then it hit me, it’s not about where you study that matters but WHERE you study. What better place to study then France, where you can find Paris, the capital of art and culture? A refuge for tortured artists around the world and many others looking for inspiration. And if you are not a humanist, France also offers a lot in the field of economics and business. After all Paris is the home of the luxury power house LVMH behind Louis Vuitton, Hennessy, Fendy and many other brands. It is a great opportunity and not just for graduate students.
I believe studying in France may even yield more benefits for undergraduates students. Of course it is not for everybody but if you are looking for a worthy challenge France is a great option. The average price to go to a local, public university is currently around $9,000 dollars; yet for little more, school in Paris is more than feasible and it is something I cannot stress enough to undergraduate students. It is of course a very big step, and moving away from home is very daunting, but what better reward can you give yourself?
In Europe it is very easy to jump from country to country and the knowledge obtained from living day to day and seeing how others live is comparable to another degree in itself. I am not saying you have to be a language aficionado because it can all be done in English, but I want to offer an escape to those who have a passion for internationalism and a passion for meeting new people and making connections with students all over the world. I know many worry that this won’t help their career or that it won’t help them find jobs, but Europe widely seeks English natives to work in their companies.
As an undergraduate, you would have the ability to learn French at a younger age where you are like to retain more and you have the advantage of already speaking English all your life. A bonus is that a bachelor’s degree is obtained after only 3 years! For those looking for a more intense program, although I warn that the median level of education in Europe is a lot higher, there are classes préparatoires, cram schools, which lead to some of the best universities in all or Europe most of which have partnered programs with the highest ranked universities in the U.S.
I just want to emphasize that studying in France is a constant way to enrich yourself. It is a culture of intellectuals. People strive to take every moment to contemplate and appreciate the art of living, a great place for students who must slowly begin to learn to analyze their own life and culture as well.
But it is not only about personal gain. It is about the connections you make with people from all over the world.
France benefits from a fairly high immigrant population, something that only makes her more diverse.
It creates opportunities for students to know more than just the european borders. In brief, the benefits from studying in France are endless.