I am honestly so glad to say that week one is over. If I were to describe this past week with one word, I would say “intense”. Before arriving in Paris, I tried to turn my brain into a blank canvas, with little to no space for expectations and hopes because I thought that would make the whole adaptation process a little easier. Since this International Internship is my first internship experience, ever, and it is also my first study abroad while in college, I quite literally had nothing to expect. Yet, no matter how much I tried to escape it, this first week was still hard. Dealing with the language barriers for 8 hours a day in a professional environment is something that I had never experienced, and even though I love the French language, it was exhausting at times. Adjusting to a different culture, understanding my initial tasks on the organization, and meeting my co-workers was also a little tricky in the beginning.
However, as hard as it was, it was also an amazing week! This city is truly wonderful and every day that I went out to explore it, I would discover cool little things. Even though it’s only been one week, I know that during my time here, I will live one of the most unique experiences of my life. As well, I have a few friends that are also studying abroad in Paris this summer, so it’s been really fun going sightseeing, trying out new restaurants, and sharing my overall experience with people that already mean a lot to me. Lastly, I also got lucky with the other IIP Paris students because all of them are super nice people and we also got to hangout and have fun moments together.
Going back to internship life, when thinking about time management during my time here, I always thought that would be the easiest aspect that I would get used to while working abroad. I am naturally a little bit more of a Type A person, constantly trying to organize my life, specially at school, down to the tiniest details. Therefore, at my first internship day on Monday, when I was given my first task, I was determined to get it done as soon as I could. But what I didn’t take into account was how different time management means in the U.S and in France. One of the first things my supervisor told me is that my job, which consisted of translating sections of one of their major annual reports on trafficking of endangered species, had no deadline. She emphasized how the goal was not to finish the translations in only a couple of days, but instead to truly get me accustomed to the organization and to prioritize quality over quantity.
I had never had something school/work related that did not have a set due date, so initially I saw my time management skills going down the drain. However, as the week progressed, I realized that even though I did not have a strict deadline, I was not slacking on my work, nor was I worried about taking too much time to complete my first task. In fact, not having a deadline allowed me to feel more comfortable in my workspace, making it easier for me to ask my colleagues for help. It also allowed me to be more meticulous about the work that I was doing, making sure that I was delivering my best work, since, after all, I had all the time in the world.
As well, since it looks like the nature of my work is doing one task at a time, I don’t have a big need to prioritize my responsibilities. I do some basic organization by keeping track of the sections that I am currently working so I don’t have a hard time finding them on the next day. Now that I am starting my second week, I hope I this pace, even as my tasks at the NGO will probably start to get more complex on the upcoming weeks. I just finished my translation tasks on Friday and today I started to write new content for the same annual report that I was translating, focusing more on trafficking of endangered species in Latin America. I also do not have a set deadline, but the more that I am starting to feel comfortable in my workspace, the more likely I am to enjoy what I am doing and to complete my tasks on a timely manner.
See you all next week!