Settling in…

MarshallJ99 – My neighborhood!

Hi again! I’d like to preface this blog by venting. This experience is literally the craziest thing I have ever done, and I consider myself an rather adventurous individual. How do I feel? I think I am currently resting at the intersection of euphoria and panic. Assimilating is no joke. On prior trips to France, because they were only for 3 weeks max, I didn’t feel the need to assimilate. But because I will be here for 8 weeks, I decided it would be best to make a real effort to blend in. It’s exhausting but i’m ready for the challenge.

My host family is amazing. I am living with a mother and her daughter, who lives one floor below us. I don’t understand what they are saying half the time, but I do understand enough to make it through dinner. Speaking of food, I have never been forced to eat so much in my life, no complains, but I need to remember to get my cardio in before I return to the states looking like an actual baguette. The boulangerie around the corner from my house already knows me by name, and I am babysitting for my neighbors. Life is so so good here!

In other news, the cashier at the grocery store asked me if I needed a fork (in french obviously) and to her I responded: “No, thank you, I already have a bag”. Paris: 1 Simone: 0. But in all honestly I am already having the time of my life and I am so grateful for this experience and I can’t wait for my internship at Gallery SLOW to start on Tuesday. Speaking of…

The industry I am working in is Art, or better yet the intersection of art and business. The key skills and strengths that are necessary to be successful in this industry are as follows:

  1. Communication

In an art gallery, particularly in an art gallery that is in a different country, communication is key. In order to sell the art, it is imperative that one is able to communicate properly with the customer. Beyond this, it is necessary to be able to communicate effectively with my boss so that I can be as helpful as possible. Similarly, if I am asked to translate things for the website, I will need to be able to effectively communicate what they want to say in french in to English.

2. Confidence

In communicating with customers, and with my boss, I need to be confident. It is really difficult to be confident when in a foreign country not speaking your native language, but confidence is key in this environment. As they say, “fake it till you make it”.

3. Social

I will also need to be very social. Being in an art gallery requires a certain level of social interaction that is easy to sustain in the states, but speaking a different language can make it particularly difficult to socialize. So, to be successful in the art world, I will need to make sure I am deliberately social.

Some competencies that are necessary to be successful in the art world include collaboration and open- mindedness. Firstly, collaboration is important because France places a large emphasis on group work and togetherness. This contrasts the mentality in the United States greatly. I am likely to find myself having to work in groups all day, which is something I am not used to. Collaboration and group work will also help me to assimilate in the culture. Another important competency is open-mindedness. This is very important because there will likely be several cultural differences that manifest themselves over the next 8 weeks, and having an open mind will be necessary for success. For example, the french are much more pessimistic than we are in the United States, so I was warned to be ready for a lot of “no’s” in the coming weeks. Things like this will be difficult to adjust to if I am closed minded.

Ultimately, I have my work cut out for me, but I am extremely excited for the weeks to come. A bientot x!