Peter Grbac's Study Abroad Experience
"Salut! My name is Peter Grbac, and I am a senior concentrating in social studies with a secondary in French language and literature. I live in Eliot House and spent the spring semester of my junior year studying in Paris, France with the Middlebury College Sciences Po Program. I was also lucky enough to have studied in Paris during the summer after my sophomore year with the Harvard Summer School Program, Paris et Ses Révolutions.
During my time in Paris, I studied some of the dramatic and widespread events that reflect the struggle of a society attempting to reconcile the traditions of its past with the promises of its future. Through lectures, language tutorials, and presentations, I not only honed my language skills, but I also experienced cultural and historical immersion. I spent a lot of time thinking and reflecting on “the real” in a city that is so often pursued and stalked by artists and tourists. Where is “the real” in the museum that is Paris? Paris, the City of Life, can often seemed trapped in time and space, as it becomes the frequent subject of photographs and glossy books. The real Paris – the invisible Paris – is often ignored and misunderstood.
While I greatly enjoyed my experience in Paris, I became aware and critical of the real problems that threaten the social fabric of the nation. Thesis research work conducted during my time abroad exposed me to the many challenges that face contemporary French society, including racism, access to higher education, sexism, and immigration.
As you contemplate an adventure abroad, I hope you’ll step outside the bubble and experience a different way of life. If I’ve learned anything from my time abroad, it’s that sometimes in order to make the most of what Harvard has to offer, you need to leave it. Bon courage!"
Email: prgrbac [at] fas.harvard.edu