Education Abroad: Preston Bogan ’19, Paris, France

Preston Bogan '19 (CLAS) at the Palace of Versailles during an Education Abroad program in Paris. (Submitted Photo)
Preston Bogan '19 (CLAS) at the Palace of Versailles during an Education Abroad program in Paris. (Submitted Photo)

The UConn Education Abroad program allows students to gain rich experience in other cultures by immersing themselves in the educational and social life of another country. At UConn, more than 400 programs spanning 54 nations are available. In the 2017-18 academic year, about 19 percent of the graduating class had participated in one of the programs, well above the national average of 10 percent. More than half of those students had spent a semester or year in another country. Here is one of them.

Name: Preston Bogan

Year: Senior

Major: French

Education abroad program: Paris, France, fall 2018

Bogan, of Naugatuck, Connecticut, earned a pair of associate degrees in liberal arts and theater from Naugatuck Valley Community College before transferring to UConn. The French program at UConn was one of the reasons he came to Storrs, and a semester in Paris is one of the requirements for graduation. Among other possibilities, he is interested in returning to France to teach after he graduates.

How did you grow personally by studying and living in Paris?

“We live in such a connected world right now, that if you don’t look outside your own comfort zone of what you think is the best way to do things, you are missing out. I think there is so much happening politically and culturally right now, it’s important to look outside ourselves and see that there are different ways things can happen.

“I was there during the [Connecticut] gubernatorial elections here, and seeing the news coverage from back home with another perspective was really eye opening. We have this bias, we want things to work out our way. You look at things from a separate point of view – a way more objective viewpoint on politics and culture than you would when you are in the thick of it.”

Where else did you visit?

“A group of UConn students went to Oktoberfest in Munich one weekend. I also got a chance to travel to Amsterdam, Dublin, and Athens. And we took a lot of excursions in France and Belgium.”

What was the academic experience like?

“The academics were difficult. I took four classes and had an internship at a French high school teaching English. We had daily grammar class at CCFS [Cours de Civilisation Française de la Sorbonne] and then three classes taught in central Paris – art history, fashion history, and the history of French gastronomy. The classes actually allowed me to finish my major work while I was over there.”

How was living in Paris?

“There were 10 UConn students there, and we lived in the same area of the dorm. It was good to have the support group in the beginning, before we got a little more comfortable and independent. You eventually get sick of going to the Eiffel Tower once the city becomes your home and you get into a routine. You discover a bunch of little things you would not have seen otherwise. You get to make decisions you would not make as a tourist, I think that is real important. You understand what it’s like to be a local, and get exposure to locals who are more patient with you because you are not some loud tourist, which is great for practicing the language.”