The French Revolution: Changing My Mind about Studying Abroad

For those of you that have read two of my recent articles, The Marketing Lush: An Unknown History and The Ultimate “Moving to a New Country” To-Do List, this particular plot twist may come as a surprise.

Place de la Bourse at night - Bordeaux, France
Place de la Bourse at night – Bordeaux, France

In late August 2015, I moved to the charming city of Bordeaux, France. Within the first two and a half weeks of living abroad I decided NOT to pursue my second MBA, and instead plan to return to the United States.

Say whaaaaaaaat?

For my family and friends, this decision seemed like a complete 180 from what I had been working towards for the last year. Luckily, the reaction from the people in my life was overwhelmingly supportive. Probably because they love me, but possibly also because of the reasoning behind it.


Not the Right Path
Though shocking, this decision is the right decision for me in the pursuit of my goals.

Since the moment of my arrival in France I learned a lot. First, I’ve discovered more about the degree program that I previously didn’t know. While I definitely did a LOT of research beforehand, it is possible I ignored some of the subtle clues because I was so excited about the idea of doing it.

I believe that my participation in this particular program would not be the right move to get me closer to my goals, one of the biggest: starting a career in the wine industry. Luckily, because I came to France early, almost two months before classes started, I still had a window of opportunity to change my plans.

There’s another reason I’ve decided to make this change.

Looking like the French, check. Speaking like the French... ehh.
Looking like the French, check. Speaking like the French… ehh.

I missed or glossed over concerns about the program because I was enamored with the idea of living in a country as culturally fascinating as France. A lot of the motivation to make this move came from the awesome notion of living abroad.

However, as incredible as Bordeaux has been, I found that for someone with truly limited French language skills (like myself), daily living in France can be frustrating and emotionally draining. The language barrier has been incredibly alienating for a social person like me.

I know that this would have become better over time. But after recognizing the program would not be as valuable to me as I initially expected, it didn’t make sense to push myself in that direction.


The Bright Side

My mother and me on the top floor of the Eiffel Towel in Paris, France, enjoying a celebratory glass of Champagne.
My mother and me on the top floor of the Eiffel Towel in Paris, France, enjoying a celebratory glass of Champagne.

All that being said, I am really VERY happy that I came to France. I’ve had the opportunity, however short, to live in a different country. It’s been an eye-opening, wonderful experience in amazing ways, and it is something that I will always value.

The best things about it:
• I got to spend a whole month in a country I’ve always wanted to visit.
• I went on a two-week vacation with my awesome mom, whom I adore for her sense of humor, sense of adventure, and curiosity for the world.
• I’ve made several new friends that I plan to stay connected with long-term.
• Most of all I actually took the leap… instead of just wishing I had.

I feel all-around positive about this experience.

After all, “Bad decisions make good stories.”


The Next Steps
While still in Europe, I’m going to take three weeks to tour three more cities / countries, including:
• London, England
• Dublin, Ireland
• Edinburgh, Scotland

(Oh, you noticed they are all English-speaking countries, too?)

Then I will return to my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri in the United States in mid-October.

I am not giving up on my dream to create a career in the wine industry. I will chase it with the fiery passion and drive that I am known for.

These harvest-ready grapes in Saint-Émilion, France wanted to pose with me in a photo, and of course, I obliged them.
These harvest-ready grapes in Saint-Émilion, France wanted to pose with me in a photo, and of course, I obliged them.

Though I already carry almost ten years of experience in the marketing field, I will consider all roles – including entry-level positions (i.e. cellar assistant, tasting room associate, etc.), just to get my foot in the door and gain industry experience. Ultimately, I will work toward more marketing-focused roles over time, if they are not immediately available. I’ll continue marketing consulting part-time, as well.

As far as location, I’m open to anywhere in the U.S. – I love to change scenery. Because of the moving around that I’ve done in the past and my friends and family who have also found somewhere else to call home, there are a number of cities that would be especially wonderful thanks to the connections I have there.


Looking to Hire?
Here’s my quick plug: If you work in the wine or beer industry and need a helping hand, let’s talk. We can schedule a Skype call, regular phone call, or in-person conversation to discuss how I can fill your need.

You’ll find all my contact information, as well as details about my experience and love of wine, on my personal website:




In the comments, tell me about a time that you traveled abroad and things went awry.


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