A French Internship

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Now that I’ve completed my internship with 750grammes/Junggle I wanted to look back at these past two months and do a bit of an evaluation of myself.

The biggest question I want to ask is this: if I had the exact same internship in the states would I act differently?

Let’s break it down.

First of all let’s talk about the language barrier: it was one of the most frustrating parts of interning abroad. It made me a lot more timid than my usual self. Yes, most of the people in the office spoke English almost perfectly, but I wanted to learn as much as I could of their language. And then there was trying to translate technical jargon while filming and editing videos. There was a lot of pointing and googling and repeating (which in the end was actually kind of fun!). But a lot of the times I felt somewhat left out. Not because my coworkers and I didn’t get along, but because I was always so focused on trying to translate what they were saying that I wasn’t ever really part of the conversation.

The workplace for a French company varies somewhat from an American company (from what I’ve worked with). The work ethic for one is pretty different. Hours worked are a lot less in France, but there very little goofing around during the work day. Don’t get me wrong, shenanigans happened frequently, but it was always straight back to work. And the French work hard. They’re known as a passionate people and it shows in their work. There were no little YouTube breaks throughout the day because we would work till lunch, take a long hour to eat and chat around the table in the office, then back to work. It sounds a little intimidating now that I’m writing it, but they genuinely care about their jobs and don’t settle for anything less than what they want to do. It’s a very encouraging environment to work in and I really loved being around so much positive energy!

It was interesting getting used to a completely different work environment, language (even my computer was in French), commute, city, country and everything that encompasses. I think it took me longer to get to the point where I could really be myself compared to if I had an internship in the states. I was still adjusting to a seven hour time difference my first week at work so I thought it was jet lag causing me to stay quiet. But really I was just so scared I was going to mess up a word or phrase or get lost in the metro stations that I didn’t allow myself to let myself enjoy what I was doing. It took weeks rather than a day or two to accustom myself to everything.

So yes, I think I would have acted completely different in an American internship. But I wouldn’t go back and change these past two months for anything. My internship abroad taught me so much more about myself than I ever imagined. I found how independent and bold I really am. The only thing I would alter is that I wish I opened up sooner. Because now that I know what I’m capable of I want to jump in head first and explore without holding back.

So whether I would have acted differently in an American internship or not doesn’t really matter. What matters is I had the best summer of my life so far in Paris, France. And part of what made it so awesome was the challenges I face while here. I would encourage everyone to try something like this for yourself. It doesn’t have to be an internship or study abroad in another country. But find something that’s going to push you to recognize parts of yourself you never knew. It’s totally worth it.

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