Janine Hegarty

My Wellesley-in-Aix Experience
 
I can safely say that my experience with the Wellesley-in-Aix program was fairly atypical with regard to the history of the program. I would perhaps even go so far to say that it was unique in the general world of study abroad programs. Prior to my departure for France in the spring of 2009, I had spent nearly a decade preparing to pursue a career in medicine. As French and Neuroscience double major at Wellesley taking a full pre-med course load, it had been quite the logistical feat to convince the Neuroscience department and my pre-med advisors to allow me to study abroad at all.
 
Perhaps the greatest lesson I learned during my time abroad was regarding French culture in general. Though I loved my Wellesley experience and would not trade it for the world, being removed from campus allowed me to reassess my priorities. By not having to worry about problem sets or spending every waking moment with my nose stuck in a book to keep up with all my classes or hunched over a set of test tubes, I began to learn how to live. My whole life, I had devoted virtually every second of my being to making myself the best possible med school candidate. That being said, I neglected virtually every other key facet of my existence. Surrounded by the sights, sounds, and smells of France, I began to step out of my self-imposed prison to appreciate the value of enjoying life. I took time to walk about a city to get to know the locals. I learned the importance of sharing a good meal and bottle of wine with friends. My time in Aix taught me that their is more to life than work; taking time to appreciate all the facets of one's life is essential for one's happiness and well being. More than that, I learned that by taking time to recharge with good food and good company awhile truly taking in my surroundings made me a more productive and well adjusted student upon my return. Ultimately, my study abroad experience helped me realize that I did not in fact want to pursue a career in medicine. My semester in Aix provided me the time to mediate on and explore other fields of interest. Coupled with my experiences in the French department at Wellesley, I was able to discover and accept a real love of theatre and adaption, two fields which I have pursued after college and around which I have developed a career.