For Nick Bourgade, the decision to study at an American university was all about learning English, experiencing a new culture and having an opportunity to play basketball.
“I am from a small village in southwest France that is called Layrac,” he says, “and I decided to come to the United States and attend Southern Vermont College for two reasons. First of all, to learn English and to try a new adventure and learn the culture. And second of all, because I love basketball and I wanted to play college basketball in the U.S.”
What he hadn’t determined was what to study. “I first started with communications and now I’m ending up with a Liberal Arts Management [degree], “ he says. “I want to go and get my masters after I graduate in May…an MBA with concentration in Sports Management.”
It took a while for Nick to feel comfortable using a foreign language. “When I first came here, I really couldn’t speak English at all since I only learned English in school and it is not that easy to go from school only a couple of hours a week to go and speak English all day long everyday with people who don’t speak anything but English,” he says. “So it was quite an experience for me the first few months to try to understand people and try to make them understand me, too."
Nick Bourgade has been having a busy final year at Southern Vermont College in Bennington, Vermont. “I do quite a bit,” he says. “I’ve been an RA [Resident Assistant] for a year. I am playing basketball. I‘ve been playing soccer and track.”
He also helps his fellow students experience a bit of his native culture. Along with a few friends, he created a program that airs on the college radio station. “I am hosting a show on the radio station that is a French show,” he says. “Our radio station is WBTN. It is a local radio station in Bennington, and basically we have a French show with two of my friends that speak French here, and we just play some European music and, you know, just have a little fun and bring something different to the American culture. You know, we show them how it is in our country and try to bring something different and try to have a little bit of fun.”
Nick says that, even though the United States and France have had political differences, his country welcomes Americans and tourists of all cultures. “I hear a lot of talking about how all French people don’t like Americans -- and they say that because of the war issues or whatever,” he observes. “But actually, I would like to say not all the French people think the way that the President thinks…it is not all about politics.”
He says that his countrymen welcome American visitors. “I brought some American friends back in May with me at home…and all the people were very happy to receive them and to welcome them and show them what the country was about,” he says. “So I would say there is a lot more about France than just the image that the media gives you. And if you really want to go there, there are so many places that are nice and a lot of people are very friendly and would like to meet other people. Also if you hesitated to go to France just because of the political differences, you know, you’ll be ashamed because it is a very beautiful country to go and check out.”
Basketball has always been a part of Nick Bourgade's life and he says it will continue to be after he graduates. “I’ve been playing basketball basically since I could walk,” he says, “and I love every other sport, like even soccer and rugby. When you are an athlete, you basically are interested in every other sport and you know that is my case.”
That has him looking for a sports-oriented career. “I spent all my childhood and teenage-hood in sports, and I don’t want to just let it go,” he says. “Just because I am done with college basketball doesn’t mean that I have to stop being involved with sports. So I would like to share my knowledge about sports and to learn even more about it, and then be able to do some thing with it.” The next step will be studying for a graduate degree in sports management. “So far, I am looking for a graduate assistantship position,” he says. “So I could be, for example, a basketball assistant coach or something along these lines.”