FEATURE — Two students from Southern Utah University in Cedar City took the term “globally engaged” to a new level when they met, began dating and became engaged while on a year-long study abroad program in France.
Lauren Ferguson and Jonathan Colby participated in SUU’s double degree exchange program in Poitiers, France, during the 2014-2015 academic year.
The program allows business students to study for a year in France and awards them two bachelor’s degrees upon graduation — one from SUU and one from ESCEM School of Business and Management. Ferguson and Colby applied for the program as soon as they discovered it was available.
The students first met when they arrived at the Salt Lake City International Airport and began dating just 10 days after arriving in France.
They had some initial struggles with adapting to a new culture, school system and being so far from home, according to a release issued by SUU, but with the support from one another, Ferguson and Colby immersed themselves in their studies and in the French culture gaining as much knowledge and experience from their study abroad program as possible.
They studied with students from 80 countries, learned elements of 14 languages and traveled to nine countries.
They made a lifetime of memories together in one year, the SUU release said, including attending Christmas Eve mass at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, riding a gondola in Venice, visiting the Vatican, standing atop the Alps in Switzerland, walking through some of the most famous museums in the world, touring German castles, seeing the tulip fields of Keukenhof in the Netherlands, eating Belgian waffles in Brussels and learning to surf in Portugal, among many other things.
Near the end of their study abroad, Colby surprised Ferguson early one morning with breakfast in bed and an announcement that they needed to catch a train, the release said. Ferguson’s initial reaction was confusion at how Colby was able to get into her apartment.
The confusion turned to excitement when Colby told her they were traveling to Paris for the day. Despite visiting Paris several times, they had never gone to the top of the Eiffel Tower, the release said, and that was to be the first stop.
Ferguson anticipated a proposal might be coming, but after climbing to the top and enjoying the views for a short time, they climbed back down and continued with other activities. They picnicked on the lawn beneath the Eiffel Tower, walked along the Promenade Pantée, and visited the Chateau de Vincennes.
As evening approached Colby suggested they go to the Eiffel Tower one more time to watch the light show, the release said. On the way there he bought a bouquet of roses and an oil painting of the Eiffel Tower from a street artist. Beneath the center of the tower he told her “I love you” in all of the languages they had learned. He put one of the roses in his mouth and presented her with a ring.
Colby asked Ferguson to marry him and she accepted, the release said. At that moment the Eiffel Tower light show began, adding a fitting finale to the culmination of romantic events that had filled the day.
Both Ferguson and Colby returned to SUU this semester and will be married in October 2015. They will graduate in May 2016 with four bachelor’s degrees between them and the kind of love story typically found only in movies.
Submitted by Tommy Gugino, media content creator, SUU Office of Marketing Communication
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