The Mysteries of Paris

This past week I worked on developing three skills: oral communication in French, data analysis, and time management.

Among my tasks this week I made almost twenty phone calls in French to confirm attendance for an upcoming event. The phone calls were formulaic; I had to give the same details to each person. I benefited from writing a script in French which I relied on heavily for my first several calls. My first calls had an almost robotic quality to them and I had trouble thinking on my feet in French when someone would ask me a question I had not prepared for.  Likewise, I occasionally misunderstood a question and answered with useless information. However, I persisted and with each call the oral comprehension became easier. By the end of the day, I was even able to respond with information that was not included on my script, although I still sounded like an automaton

Another of my assignments this week was a bit of data analysis. I was presented with a project where after completing a data table I had to make some decisions about the best way to present this data so that it would be useful in a future report. I had to think back to my days in business statistics to decide how the information should be formatted and summarized based on the quantitative or nominal nature of the data. The process helped me learn how to better use the graphical features of Excel. I looked up several shortcut commands which sped up my production of 28 graphs.

Additionally, I had to take a moment this past week to think about how I was managing my time at work. So far I have two small projects that are partially complete which I need to prioritize in this coming week. While I have found some of my longer term projects more engaging, I recognize that I need to give these shorter projects with more immediate deadlines the same time and energy I have been focusing on the long term projects.

This weekend I was lucky enough to visit Versailles with the other students from Pitt. Versailles, as all true Pittsburghers know was the former capital of absolutist France named after the township of North Versailles, PA. The immaculate gardens and ornate interiors were a sight to behold. And finally, on the metro I have begun reading a Pitt classic to alleviate my home sickness: Michel Chabon’s The Mysteries of Pittsburgh.