I didn’t get into my dream school. Now I have a new dream.

Updated: Feb 19

In fall 2019, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Paris, France through Boston University’s Paris Internship Program. It’s not an exaggeration to say that it was the best time of my life. I ate incredible food, toured beautiful sites, made new friends, and did it all in the most magical place: Paris.



I came alive during my semester abroad, and it was a difficult adjustment to come home. It was only the spring of my junior year, and I couldn’t stomach waiting a year and a half to go back.


I didn’t know whether my feelings for Paris were infatuation or love but, as the semester continued, my desire to return deepened. It became a need like oxygen to breathe. If I wanted to continue living, I needed to return to Paris.


I applied for a summer internship and planned to spend my summer in France, but then COVID-19 hit –– changing our world and devastating mine. I needed another way back.


Luckily, I had friends in the city who could help. Connor Ward, a fellow UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus, had successfully moved to Paris to be with his amazing French girlfriend, Raphaëlle, by going to graduate school.

That was it!


A master’s program was my ticket. But if I was going to do it, I was ALL in. So, instead of living my dream that summer, I worked for it by studying for the GRE and researching programs. I wasn't going to settle for just any school. I wanted prestige and something to be proud of, and it wasn’t long before I found the perfect one: the Master in Communications, Media, and Creative Industries at Sciences Po.

In August I took the GRE and prepared for the semester ahead. But after looking at the program requirements a little more closely, my heart sank. In the fine print, I saw that there was a 3.5 GPA requirement to apply for the program. My GPA sat .2 below at a 3.3. What was I supposed to do?


I explored all the options, but the only solution would be to counteract any low grades with high ones. I needed to overload by taking 7 classes and get all As. It seemed impossible. But when I set a goal, I won’t stop until I achieve it.

So that’s exactly what I did. I worked my ass off and finished out the semester with a 4.0 GPA in 21 credit hours.


I’d invested so much time and energy into my application, it was just time to hit send. I submitted my application and enjoyed three months with a weight off my shoulders. But I think you can guess what happened.

I didn’t get in. FUCK. (Sorry Professor Kayye, but if there’s ever a time for an expletive it’s now.)


My world came crumbling down and the life I’d imagined for myself –– Paris, Sciences Po, and the promise of happiness –– vanished. All with one email that said, “We regret to inform you…” FUCK. (Last one, I promise. Just for good measure.)


“I just don’t know why I put all my eggs in one basket," I remember saying to my grandpa on the phone. But he put my self-pity into perspective, “No, you didn’t. You still have all your eggs. Sciences Po just didn’t want your eggs, and it’s THEIR loss.” Weird metaphor… but he was right.


So I cried. I grieved. I got back up.


I can’t make Sciences Po change their minds or see what makes me special, but I can show them. Last week I couldn’t see success beyond their program, but today I’m creating my own horizon.


In the words of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, “Big Mistake. Big. Huge.”



I’m taking my eggs elsewhere by applying to different, but equally good schools. Life is full of rejection and nothing worth doing comes without the risk of failure. One way or another I will be making it back to Paris –– eating good food, seeing beautiful sites, and living an incredible life.


Maia

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