Preston Mohr (Paris | 2003-04) currently lives in Paris, France and is the Founder of Paris by the Glass. Preston shares his story of how studying and interning through IES Abroad inspired him to live and work in Paris. Preston recently became a French citizen and now holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and France.
IES Abroad: Tell us what you’re up to in Paris.
Preston Mohr (PM): In 2011, I founded Paris by the Glass with the idea of educating visitors to France on the important role of wine and gastronomy in French culture. I offer vineyard day trips and unique sensorial experiences, such as gourmet and wine bar walking tours. As a wine educator, I offer lectures and thematic tastings for wine trade professionals. I oversee and teach the wine program and wine curriculum at Cook'n with Class, a cooking school in the Montmartre district of Paris. I also teach the Internship Seminar at the IES Abroad French Studies Program. This opportunity allows me to share my own professional experience here in France with the students and help them develop their own paths to professional development.
IES Abroad: What is it like living in Paris having studied there previously?
PM: Each district and neighborhood of Paris functions much like a separate village, with its own amenities, services, and attractions. Moving often within Paris has allowed me to discover the many faces of this amazing city! I still love going back to the Paris - French Studies Center and seeing the same shops and cafés that were there when I studied abroad.
IES Abroad: When did you decide you wanted to go back?
PM: One academic year [in France] was just not enough. I knew immediately after finishing my studies at IES Abroad Paris French Studies that I would return. During my time at IES Abroad, I worked hard on finding local French friends to help me not only progress in my language skills, but to also help me develop a personal and professional network.
IES Abroad: Why did you want to go back?
PM: I felt at home in Paris. It felt so natural to me, yet there was still so much to be discovered. I also wanted to continue to perfect my French and dig deeper into the culture. After several years working as an English teacher, and in other fields, I decided to launch Paris by the Glass in 2011. Before doing so, I returned to school to study wines and spirits for two years, completing the Diploma through the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.
IES Abroad: Did studying abroad with IES Abroad influence your decision? Anyone or anything that influenced you in particular?
PM: Without the study abroad experience, I would have never had the confidence to move abroad. The studies at IES Abroad Paris French Studies helped open the door to the professional opportunities available. With the full immersion program that IES Abroad offers, I was also able to achieve a functional level of French that is necessary to live and work here. I completed an internship during my second semester at IES Abroad, which introduced me to the professional environment in France. This experience helped me immensely later on in my career.
IES Abroad: How did you make it happen? Tell us about the process.
PM: My first step was coming back to France in 2005 as an English language teaching assistant. Working 12 hours a week teaching English at a junior high and high school level, I was given a visa that also allowed me to legally work part time at another job. The next step was to be hired by a French company, which can be very tricky. However, through the French American Chamber of Commerce work in France program, I was able to get full-time working status for the several years to that followed. And finally in 2016, after two years of applications and interviews, I became a French citizen. I maintain dual citizenship with the United States.
IES Abroad: What advice would you give to study abroad students who want to work or study abroad?
PM: My first bit of advice would be to perfect the local language. Even though English is often the common lingua franca of business and trade, it's so important to also speak the language of the country in which you wish to live. In France, you can easily lead a boardroom discussion in English, but speaking French around the "water cooler" with your co-workers will really make you part of the team and have a deeper understanding of the culture.
IES Abroad: Best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
PM: Maintain your integrity wherever you go. Think positively about everything; there are only solutions for problems.
IES Abroad: Why do you think it’s important to try and live, work and/or study abroad?
PM: Living, studying, and working in a foreign culture broadens your perspective and makes you a much better citizen of the world! The skills that you garner while abroad, even if only for a semester, will be invaluable both professionally and personally throughout your life. There is no real way to quantify how studying or working abroad experience changes you, but it does!