Backstory: The Beginning

Let’s talk about Paris.

The story of how this blog got its name, “The Life of a Grad School Dropout,” is a story that I love to tell. It has lots of life lessons and involves so many cheesy “finding yourself,” moments, but I think it’s something worth discussing.

So I’m giving (or maybe forcing upon) you a 3 part mini-series to tell this story. And we’re going to start at the very beginning, which I’ve heard is a very good place to start.

In August 2016, after a gap year working behind a desk following my graduation from undergrad, I moved to Paris for graduate school.

I went to a school called Sciences Po (pronounced see-ance po, in the French way, of course. And don’t you dare pronounce it in the English way, you will be cast off the campus and never allowed to return), which is a school specifically for political science. I had my undergrad degree in International Relations, and was going for my Master’s in European Studies.

Honestly, when I moved to Paris, I was planning on making it a permanent thing. I adore the culture and openness of Europe, and at that time I wanted nothing more than to stay there forever. Living there for school was going to put me on a fast track for citizenship, and then I would be able to work for the political side of the European Space Agency, which was my dream.

The first couple weeks were fantastic. I got to Paris well before school started to participate in a welcome program for incoming international graduate students, and I had what can easily be called one of the best orientation groups of all time.

We all got along so well in those first couple of weeks. A group chat got started straight away, and group hangouts were planned even outside of our orientation activities.

For the orientation program, we had two French students for our guides. One took us around to see the sights of Paris and get a taste for the culture, and the other taught us what to expect in our classes.

This second person was particularly important, as I found out quickly that expectations in University in France are very different than those of the U.S. Taking a stand on something and being able to convincingly argue it and revise and review it over and over was the primary focus of my French teachers.

So the first couple of weeks were great. I had a group of people to hang out with, I seemed to be pretty competent at our “what to expect” exercises, and even when it got blisteringly hot (I found out what 35 degrees Celsius feels like in a fifth floor apartment with only a skylight for ventilation. FYI, it’s hell), I was happy.

Things really started going downhill after that.

BUT, to find out what happened next, you’ll have to check out my next backstory segment!

I’ll be back next week with the next installment, I hope you’ll join me then!


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