Guest Blogger- The Versailles Experience

I am happy to introduce a new guest blogger, Lauren Cannady, who is starting her Versailles Fellowship. Below is an introduction to her experience, and I’m sure there will be more to follow throughout the year!

Qu’est que c’est? Quelle est The Versailles Fellowship?

The College of Charleston maintains an annual exchange program with the Universite de Versailles-Saint Quentin en Yvelines, located in the suburbs of Paris, France.  A CofC graduate student is awarded a fellowship to teach conversational English at the French universite, while engaging in an independent research topic. The graduate student is considered a French government employee and is provided possession of a salarie visa for one year.  Payment is supplied by the French universite in euros, and is equivalent to approximately $17,000.  For additional information please visit: http://gradschool.cofc.edu/paying/fellowships.php.

Moi?

In the mist of thesis research, I received several emails from the College of Charleston’s Graduate School Office regarding the Versailles Fellowship’s application process. I ignored the first couple emails with ease because je ne parle pas français. Then spring semester arrived and I realized that I DID NOT have a post-graduation plan. What would I do with my Master of Science in Historic Preservation degree ? Jobs were limited and an increasing amount of employers were suggesting the economy would prohibit them from hiring in the near future. As a member of the Y Generation, I was full of dreams and expectations and now I was distraught and disappointed by my lack of options.  It was time to diversify my employment preferences and hone in on my personal goals.

I knew that I wanted to gain a global perspective. Although I have traveled throughout several countries, I have never lived abroad. My intuition told me that an international endeavor would provide personal growth and previously unimaginable career routes.

Along with the common preservation employment options, I also knew teaching and training interested me. Plus, I was drawn to the university environment and I thought a career as a professor would suit my personality well. However, I did not want to commit to a PhD program before testing this inkling. I brainstormed temporary teaching opportunities.

I really enjoyed my thesis research, Holocaust commemoration. But,  I was unsure how this passion could lead to an employment position.  I spoke with my thesis advisors regularly and I applied to several international programs and positions.

After receiving several more emails concerning the Verailles Fellowship, I decided to apply. Pourquoi ne pas ? I told myself it was a long shot, considering my lack of French language and culture, but there was no reason to let the chance pass me by.

A couple weeks later I was notified by Dean McCandless and Dr. Olejniczak that I was chosen for the Versailles Fellowship exchange. Ooh la la, est-ce vrai ?  I could not believe my ears. I would graduate from my Historic Preservation program, and then enroll as a non-degree seeking Master of Arts History student so that I could participate and respresent the College of Charleston.

I did not realize it initially, but the exchange would fulfill all three of my post-graduation dreams : an international experience, an opportunity to teach, and the freedom to extend my thesis research. I was moving to the City of Lights, to the City of Dreams…

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