So, as many of you know, I’m headed to Paris. But why? What happened to fashion, business, Teach For America etc.?
Allow me to peel back the layers of my decision-making process:
1) I’ve been thinking about moving to Paris to learn French since the last time I was in Europe (July-August 2011). Many of my good friends speak French, and personally, I think it’s one of the prettiest languages in the world. So I’m sure you’re asking, as did my parents, ‘Why do you want to learn French? What good will that do you, Christine? Will that further your career?’ So now I’ll pose a question to you: ‘Since when did doing something always hinge on an end goal to acquire a skill for a specific purpose or further your career (ie. make money)?’ Can’t the experience, the open-endedness of the experience, and the possible opportunities that arise from the experience be the destination?
In my humble opinion, ‘living’ life based on undesirable outcomes (ie. forgoing professional experience now, so that in the future I may be unable to find a suitable profession / career that’s stable and pays well) is quite restrictive. I’d be making a fear-based decision, a decision on what I should do rather than what I want to do. And approaching decision-making with those two very different mindsets yield very different outcomes.
2) I wasn’t 100% sure FiDM was for me. I wasn’t keen on taking out 30-50K (tuition and living expenses) over one year to get a job as a store manager that pays less than I’m making now, only to pay off that debt. (Does that make sense to anyone?!) I never wanted to design. The program I was accepted to was for entrepreneurship, to start your own fashion company. And in a fashion business, particularly where you’re sourcing your own products (say I were to outsource the design), there’s a lot of capital involved (design, manufacturing / production, marketing etc.). I just didn’t think the education was a good ROI (return on investment) right now. Additionally, once you start a business / company, it’s like your baby. You have the sole responsibility of growing the business, which means that you can’t just leave on whim.
3) I won’t ever have an opportunity like this ever again. I’m 25 and young. I have no boyfriend, no children, no debt. Additionally, the family is paying for my flat and giving me a very generous stipend. Put it this way, I’ll be able to save money in Paris, which is unheard of. It’s like I’m being paid to do something I love (tutor and mentor middle school and high school students) and learn French. I work 35-40 hrs a week; I go to French school six hrs a week; and I have four weeks of paid vacation. And every six weeks, there’s a two-week break. I think the better question is: Why not Paris?
4) The French mother said I may be able to pursue an advanced degree like an MBA while in Paris, and for a lot cheaper than in the States. I just found out about this opportunity – it was not originally part of my decision-making process. AND, I just discovered a relatively inexpensive, top-ranked business school in Paris which offers specializations in marketing management and business creation taught in English that is conveniently located less than half a mile from my flat. Seriously?!
5) There’s nothing I would rather be doing than learning French and living in Paris. My current options are: 1) undertake the fashion entrepreneurial program at FIDM, 2) live in Houston with my parents and save a ton of money working two agreeable PT jobs, or 3) move to San Diego and get a job at UCSD as a college career counselor. Options two and three actually aren’t bad, but they pale in comparison to moving to Paris.
6) Paris is a bustling city with so much to do. (I studied abroad at ESCP-EAP in Fall 2008 for 3.5 months.) I regret that I never learned the language because 1) all of my friends were exchange students, so our method of communication was English and 2) I wasn’t trying at all. Now I have the chance to learn the language again (can’t screw it up!).
I’m fond of the French culture (as opposed to the Spanish culture, for example). The history and art in / of the city (I was an art history minor) excites me. Imagine getting lost in the Louvre on a weekly basis – NBD. I LOVE efficient public transportation, and the Paris metro, imho, is one of the best in Europe (if not the world). Additionally, Europeans live at a relatively slower pace – they take the time to enjoy and savor life as opposed to rushing through it. Finally, I have friends all over Europe (Portugal, England, Norway, Switzerland, Germany, and Austria) that I can visit and that can visit me. Or we can conveniently rendezvous in other countries to travel together.
7) All the challenges of living in Paris will force me to learn and grow. Learning another language to communicate with the locals will be a feat in and of itself! I will have to change my mindset and learn a new way of life. Ultimately, Paris is a great opportunity to find and reinvent myself.
I’ll end with this quote:
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” — Steve Jobs
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