Last April, as I was preparing for graduation and life after college, I met up with my academic advisor to talk to him about grad school. I am the first person in my family to attend a four-year college and earn a degree, and as such, I had no idea what was involved in going to grad school, or if I should/could go to one. What I did know, you could easily put into a nutshell. I knew that as a mature adult graduate with a B.S. in Geology, I would competing with my MUCH younger peers. I also knew that as a person with a Masters degree, I would have much more opportunities available for employment, and that I would be eligible for better paying positions. What I did not know, was how to apply to a grad school and what I needed to know before I applied.
Thanks to Dr. John McCormack, one of my favorite professors and academic advisor at UNR he steered me into what I felt most passionate about - paleontology. Fortunately, there was a professor at UNR who is a paleontologist, Dr. Paula Noble, however she left on a sabbatical to France during my senior year. I wanted to take her micro-paleontology course, however it was only offered every other term, and I missed out on the opportunity to take it before her sabbatical. Dr. McCormack took the time to explain to me how to investigate grad schools, and professors that I would like to study and do research with. He recommended that I email Dr. Noble in France as she was due to return to the U.S. for a few weeks, and told me to speak with her. I emailed Dr. Noble, and she agreed to meet with me when she came back to UNR to work with one of her doctorates at the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) lab.
During our meeting, Dr. Noble had asked me if I had considered studying abroad, specifically in northern France. I told her I had not yet considered grad schools outside the U.S., but I have dreamt of going to Europe someday to live, since I was eighteen years old. I traveled to Great Britain and France in 1978, and loved both countries, however I felt the ancestral connection in France, which I felt quite comfortable in.
|Lille in northern France (Google Maps)|
My mother's family (both maternal and paternal sides) came from France in the 17th Century to help settle Nouveau France (later known as the Canadian province of Québec). My thirteenth great-grandmother, Marie Anne Campion was one of the Les Filles du Roi, of King Louis XIV, married my great-grandfather, Mathurin Dubé, 3 September 1670 in Québec. Mathurin, was son of Jean and Renée Suzanne of La Chapelle-Thémer, Vendee, Pays de la Loire, France. Thirteen generations later, descendants are found all over Canada and the United States.
Dr. Noble and I spoke about my options, and I took a few months to mull it over. I decided that the opportunity given to me was one I could not pass up. I am so grateful to Dr. Noble, and my soon-to-be professor Taniel Danelian at the Université de Lille 1 (Sciences and Technology) in Villeneuve d'Ascq. Both have worked with me to secure acceptance as a M2 grad student this coming Fall, and to start my process with the Consulat Général de France, in the hopes that I can obtain my student visa and permission to attend Lille. Although there is much involved, it is worth it. I am excited and looking forward to my life in France as a grad student.
|Photo credit: http://www.lavoixletudiant.com/etudes/la-poursuite-detudes/les-universites-du-nord-pas-de-calais-picardie/29869/universite-lille-1-sciences-et-technologies/|
University education in Europe is quite different than that in the U.S., and I will be writing more about that in a subsequent post or posts. Although, my time as an undergraduate is over, new educational goals as a grad student are just beginning. My life in the France during my time at the Université de Lille will be full of new experiences and adventures, which I cannot wait to write about and share with others. Taking trains and public transportation will be in itself a new experience, as in the western U.S., we drive our automobiles everywhere. Living in a non-English setting will be fun and a challenge as I have only taken French for two semesters. Thanks to the Rosetta Stone Software company, I will be spending much of my summer learning French.