I thought I would talk about the unexpected turn of events that led me back to Paris since this is about the time that students/people are trying to figure out what to do with their lives/applying to study abroads/au pair/grad schools, etc, and I found myself in the same situation last year.
How did you stumble across this opportunity?
I have been in an Accelerated Masters Program at my school since about the time that I got back from my study abroad. I almost didn’t go through with applying, but after missing two weeks of school for a conference, being in the hospital (after temporarily going completely blind in one eye), being diagnosed with MS, and dropping a class due to so much catchup work, I decided to apply so that it would give me an extra year to decide what to do with my life.
Fast forward to the fall, and I met with my Director of Graduate Studies to talk about my Plan of Study. I told her that I was interested in applying to become an Assistante de Langue through TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program in France) and she suggested that I take a year off in between my undergraduate/1st year of graduate studies and the second year. I quickly dismissed that possibility, because I thought that giving myself that year off would be enough to stop me from finishing my MA. I stopped thinking about it, and instead focused on school and finding an internship.
After many unsuccessful applications, I started getting the typical anxiety about my future. Then, I stumbled upon an email sent to the graduate listserv about two possible exchanges: one in Montpellier and the other in Paris. I planned on applying to Montpellier since I had never lived there, and I figured I could get a new experience. I ended up not applying and the deadline passed because I decided that I would just follow my plan to finish my MA in 2017. That Monday after, I get an email from my professor, asking me if I was interested in the Paris 7 exchange. I quickly gathered all the documents and sent them off to my professor the next morning, and she told me that I got the exchange the following day. The minute I got the email from my professor, I felt a weight lifted off of my shoulders.
It all suddenly came together. I knew that I wanted to go back to France, and I saw this opportunity as the perfect sign I needed to push me to go to Paris for a year before going back to my MA. I mean, all the signs were there, right? I didn’t have any other plans besides finishing my MA, I missed the deadline, and my professor reached out to me after the deadline had passed! I knew that I wanted to go back to France and that I wanted to teach English here for a year anyways. All of a sudden, it didn’t matter to me that I would have to push my graduation date back a year.
So here’s my advice: if you’re thinking about taking a gap year, do it. If you’re thinking about studying abroad but don’t want to push your graduation date back, do it. I can promise you that you won’t regret it. And if you’re getting anxious about the future with jobs/grad programs/internships, everything will fall into place. That gap year will give you a lot of perspective, as well as the opportunity to live in a new environment. You won’t get mad about taking that “victory lap;” your degree program will be waiting for you when you get back. And like I said, don’t stress out about the future so much, because everything will arrange itself when it needs to. It all sounds really cliché, but it is probably the biggest advice I wish I could have given myself this time last year.