When I was a teenager, I thought I knew it all. My parents always drove me crazy, and they ~ didn’t understand ~ me. I was a moody teenager who was lost and angry and expressed myself through theatre, music and writing. That was all I ever wanted to do. When we moved to Indiana and I had the problems I did with my high school administration (explained in this post), I felt even more lost. I was not going to be able to do college like any typical student, and getting my degree was going to take longer. So after graduating, I did a year of community college, worked two jobs and still did not feel satisfied. It just wasn’t what I wanted to do. So I decided to take a year off and head abroad (honestly, it was only suppose to be a year!).
Growing up, these two pieces of advice from my dad stuck to me:
- College is showing future employers that you can be trained. Period. You can get a degree in one thing and wind up in a total different field.
- Everything is about networking.
Since I have moved abroad, I have been doing fairly decent in the networking department. But networking for me is not just about business, it is about knowing someone and having a personal relationship with them, not just one of business, meetings and emails. I do believe that people can make their own life without a degree, I have been astonished to meet multiple people here who started their business all from zero and are doing well for them. I also like being surrounded by people who inspire me, they make me want to work harder and achieve my dreams.
During my first year in Paris, I knew I most likely wanted to go back to school, but I could not see myself going back to America. I was in a place where I felt comfortable, making myself work, and growing as an individual. I worked with a horrible host family my first year, but they taught me my self-worth. They taught me to say no and stand up for myself. I was in a situation where I was highly dependent on them if I did not want to go back home… So I learned to work with them as much as I could (eventually I learned you can’t make everyone like you and some people are crazy enough). I learned how to work with unlikeable people, something that cannot be taught. I learned French, which honestly, if I would have learned at home I would have learned an academic French. Here, I am actually in the culture, know when to be polite and not, know which expressions are out of context, etc. My year off was not a waste, but I wanted a degree. I wanted to know that I could, if worse comes to worse, have something to fall back on. Besides, I kept thinking about what my dad had taught me: college was just to show future employers you were trainable. What better way to show them I was by doing school in a system I wasn’t prepared for? People always tell me that with my three languages, I already am desirable by many companies but I kept thinking that if I did my degree here, it would be a stronger degree than doing my studies in my home country.
I am studying History, but all I want to do is write, travel and learn. My degree is not far off from what I want to do, but it’s not exactly spot on. I do enjoy it, and it is fun seeing how each country views history differently, but in the end each person has to choose their road. A degree is just a piece of paper… Life is the real experience.
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