On the afternoon of May 26, 2019, I found myself sitting at the edge of my bed, looking out of my 5th floor bedroom window and thinking about was how lucky I was to be spending an entire summer in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. This quaint apartment on Place de Ternes in Paris, France, was where I would call home in the summer of 2019.
|The view from my bedroom window in my host mom's apartment|
I studied and interned abroad with CEA in Paris, France, that summer. Looking back, it was the most influential summer of my life in regards to deciding where my future was headed, and I remain so thankful for the friends and experiences I made along the way. At the time, I was a junior at Texas A&M University with just a year left to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. I knew I loved event planning, and I knew I loved the French language and culture, but until my study abroad experience, I was unsure how I would be able to connect the two. My internship was with a small French startup called Spark the Change, and I worked with a small team in our shared office (right across from the Louvre) to help plan a global conference to be held that October in Paris. Every morning, I woke up, ate breakfast with my host mom, and went to work. Most days I would leave the office after lunch, and take the metro to the CEA campus for my afternoon photography class. It was through the work in my internship that I realized it was possible to bring my two loves together.
At the end of my summer, I decided that my next step to make this possible would be to pursue graduate school in France.
|My friends and me in front of the Louvre|
I cannot give all of the credit to my workplace and my boss for giving me the confidence to pursue this endeavor. It was also my photography and internship seminar professor at CEA, my amazing host mom, and my new friends who continued to encourage me to pursue this newfound goal. When I came home, I graduated from Texas A&M, and got to work on researching and applying to graduate programs around France.
|My friend and me on Bastille Day|
I now sit on my balcony a year and a half later, amidst a global pandemic, in Antibes, France, as a graduate student at SKEMA Business School, pursuing a MSc in Strategic Event Management. Applying to a graduate program abroad in the middle of a pandemic is not the most comforting task, especially with borders opening and closing daily, but it was my internship abroad that gave me the competitive edge I needed for SKEMA to accept me into their program. Not only was I able to show that I had the skills needed to be successful in a multicultural environment, but I also had event experience with a French company. During my admissions interview, I spent much of the time discussing how influential my study abroad experience was for me, and how I grew into a better student and professional because of it. I have a year left in my graduate program at SKEMA, and my plan is to remain in France as an event planner for years to come.
|View from one of my favorite spots in Nice, France|
One of my favorite things about my study abroad experience in 2019 was the friends that I made from around the world, many of whom I still keep in contact with today. I have a list of people I met in Paris that summer who am going to visit when it is safe to do so (a friend doing his master's in Amsterdam, a friend living in Madrid, a friend working in Frankfurt), and friends who are ready to come visit me in France as well. In the end, I wish I could re-live my study abroad experience, but I know now that I have a lot of living abroad experiences to be excited about.
Katie Seabolt is a CEA alumna who studied and interned abroad in Paris, France, during the Summer 2019 term. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University and is currently in graduate school at SKEMA Business School in Antbes, France.
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