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Studying Abroad with a Major No One Offers: A Technical Theatre Major in Paris

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I’ve known I wanted to study abroad since I was in high school. I had watched my older friends and relatives participate in various study abroad programs, and I knew it was an invaluable experience that I also wanted to take part in. The only problem was that I chose a major that doesn’t really exist abroad. How was I going to study abroad and still complete my graduation requirements?

For some context, I’m a Theatre Design and Technology major with emphases in Stage Management and Sound Design, which is about as niche as it sounds. In my research, I found that while theatre programs do exist abroad, they’re almost exclusively performance-based, and I’m not a performer. Was I going to have to give up on my dream of studying abroad?

Now, I’m also a French minor, and there was the opportunity to study French somewhere, but I didn’t want to spend an entire semester away from studies that were relevant to my career path.

The solution? An international internship and careful configuration of my remaining graduation requirements. I attend a small liberal arts school in the US, so as part of my niche major I have a built-in fine arts minor to cover the artistic side of technical theatre. That means that a lot of my graduation requirements are art classes, and it just so happened that I hadn’t taken most of them yet when I began to plan for study abroad. I quickly discovered it was much easier to find art classes abroad than technical theatre classes, so I made a plan: I’d find a program with art classes that fulfilled my grad requirements, and then I’d be able to study abroad and stay on track for graduation!

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The solution only got better when I discovered that with CEA I could not only take art classes abroad, but I could also do an international internship, and live in Paris where I’d get practical French experience. It was the perfect trifecta!

Before I discovered the CEA Study + Internship in Paris program, I was getting really discouraged thinking that I wouldn’t find a way to study abroad and bring relevant credits home. Now, I’m working at an internship that’s giving me career-related experience, I’m taking one art history class about modernism and another about architecture, and I’m studying and speaking French in a francophone country. Now that I’m here studying abroad in Paris, I feel comfortable knowing that I truly found the perfect program for me, and I’m making the most of every moment abroad!

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Emily Counts is the Spring 2022 CEA MOJO Blogger in Paris, France, and is currently studying at Nebraska Wesleyan University.
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