Sometimes not knowing which path to take can lead us to the right one.
I arrived in France almost 6 years ago. Once I finished school in Mexico I started to realise how lost I was career-wise. I had not the slightest idea of the degree I wanted to study and less so where. The three months that followed were not easy, to say the least. All of my friends had a backup plan. I decided then to take some time off and put things into perspective (at 18 we should be allowed to make mistakes). I believe there is a lot of social pressure to have an answer to everything. The instant uncertainty comes knocking on our door we go into panic mode and forget how to think clearly. I took a step back and a chill pill. Mum told me to find something that would remain useful no matter what I did in life. Since I had always been good with languages I realised I would never go wrong with a new foreign language. At the end of the day, languages are always a plus on a CV. I did my research, and after looking at the different courses to learn French, I made my choice. I also found a host family through an agency. Without realising it, I had come up with a plan! As soon as I got my French visa, I bought my plane ticket and without thinking twice, I left everything behind.
For those of you who wonder how I was able to leave my country to go to another one where I knew nobody, well I guess I dreaded much more the prospect of staying and ending up studying something dull or that I was simply not passionate enough about. When I arrived in France I did not speak fluently, nor could I make proper sentences; my level in French was quite basic. I understood a little bit but was not good at conversation. I took an intensive 6-month French course for beginners. Once my course was over, I started to want to know more about universities in Paris, especially about those that offered multilingual programmes. Being in France allowed me to know myself a little bit better. Here, I discovered my passion foreign languages. A couple of months before going back to Mexico for the summer holidays I found ISIT in a Google search. After passing the admission exams, I decided to give it a go. ISIT is one of the leading higher education institutions for translation and interpreting in France. It offers me an academic programme where my linguistic skills (Spanish, English and French) are needed. The programme suited me perfectly and I dare say it still does; I am currently doing my final year of the Master’s degree in Intercultural Communication and Translation. Coming to France has been a great opportunity in every sense of the word, and while it is true that things have not always been easy (adapting to a new culture while being on your own), I do not regret it at all.
Here is some advice for the brave ones. Do your research: France has too much to offer career-wise. Go to the website of the university or higher institution you are interested in, look at the programmes they offer, and read the short descriptions of what the courses are all about. It would probably be good to get in contact with them should you have any questions or problems. I remember sending hundreds of emails to the administration because I was not sure of what paperwork to send them, given that my further education had been in Mexico and we do not have the equivalent of the famous French baccalaureate. If you are going to contact them, do it through email so as to have a trace. Dare! There is always something good that comes out of going abroad. Yes, living in a foreign country can be challenging (when months/years pass by without seeing your family) but it is truly an enriching experience. For me, it has been the best decision I have made so far in my life.