Among the French from Harvard we met, a surprising little music was imposed on almost everyone, music we might not have heard 10 or 20 years ago, when the myth of the “American dream” seemed irresistible: they refuse to return. As for France, some even say “quality of life” – an argument that comes up constantly –, it is certain to return there one day for family or friends.
Salome Garnier has taken the plunge, and yet there’s nothing anti-American about her. She was also born 23 years ago in Atlanta, coincidentally her parents did their Masters there. But although he spent the first years of his life there and had an American passport, the United States was an abstraction to him. As of February 2017. That month, the Garnier family visits Boston universities for Salome’s twin sister. “While we were there, we visited Harvard, like tourists. And there I fell in love. The campus was covered in snow, it was spectacular”.
The family attends an information session, where they are explained what needs to be done to be admitted. Salome learns two things there. The first is that she has a priceless talent: she practices rowing at a high level (she took part in the French championship for several years in a row). “I didn’t know that American universities like Harvard loved rowing,” she admits. The other piece of information is just as important: “We were told that below a certain level of family income, schooling was completely free if you were admitted. My parents emigrated to France for a good living, but We were below the scope of the question”.
Salome visits Harvard
Achieving 18 or 19 out of 20 during his schooling, in addition to his athletic talents, his academic record was excellent. Without knowing it, Salomé brings with her something extra: her humanitarian commitment, some unusual travels with a very small association founded by her math teacher. “When you recruit, you can see after the fact the comments of the person conducting the admissions interview,” she explains. “One said: ‘The way she describes her experience in Madagascar is different from what you see from people who do “humanitarian work” to improve their application file.
Read other episodes of this series
Episode 1: From basketball to cancer research: a French woman’s surprising itinerary at Harvard
Episode 2: Undergraduate then MBA: A repeat offender at Harvard
Episode 3: One Foot in France, One Foot in the United States: A Franco-American at Harvard
Episode 4: Japanese by Birth, French by Adoption: A Francophile at Harvard
Episode 5: Disabled Becomes a Harvard Researcher on His Own Illness: A Gifted Journey
Episode 6: Space Engineer and Scholarship Recipient: Egg Skull at Harvard
He loved his studies there. On the rowing team, first: “Racing on the Charles is a real joy,” she says, along with great photos of her team on the Charles River, which runs alongside Harvard and other prestigious universities. Then, the study itself: “There is a very high level of rigour, a lot of side work, reading, articles. You always have to go beyond what is expected of you, this is what can be tiring for some – necessary Not the workload, but the depth of thought that is expected of you every time”.
But despite this extraordinary experience, “I was a little jaded with the United States,” she admits. “To be honest, I couldn’t see myself living there for long. It’s nice to be in France, and I’m close to my family.” So Salomé decided to do her master’s degree at EHESP (School of Advanced Studies in Public Health). “The last year at Cambridge was really great. But after I finished it, I felt like I’d made the rounds at Harvard.”