Navigating Challenges

My third week in Paris has been one of the most unique and unexpected ones so far. Because there was a national holiday, I was lucky to get a four-day weekend and have a very much needed little vacation time. On Thursday, we all went to Versailles and as much as I grew up seeing pictures from that place, I was still in shock about how big and luxurious it is. As someone who likes history, it was crazy to think that such a small group of people with such a large amount of power lived in such an unreal place. On Friday, I spent the day in Lyon, one of France’s biggest cities about 2 hours away from Paris by train. The city was beautiful, charming, and the food was amazing, but the best part is that I beat my personal walking record as I walked nearly 28,000 steps that day, even though my feet are still recovering from that. On Saturday, the Champions League Final was happening here in Paris, so my friends and I ended up on the Liverpool fan zone, which was basically one of Paris’ major streets that was blocked to receive 50,000 British fans. People were chanting, crying and laughing at the same time like I had never seen before. Even though they lost, it was still such a cool experience, and I can proudly say I memorized around 4 Liverpool songs that day. 

In the first week or so of my internship, I felt a lot of uncertainty. Yet, I think it is quite a normal feeling for everyone that is adapting to a completely new environment in a short period of time. I was unsure of what my tasks were supposed to be, how would I complete them successfully, as well as feeling unsure towards meeting my coworkers and feeling comfortable in my workspace. But by the end of last week, these feelings had gotten much better because not only have I found ways to ease them, but I also got more used to my routine, my co-workers, and the expectations they have towards me. One of the things I have been doing is to talk about my experience and my insecurities with my friends from home but also the other students in this program. I find that when we realize we are facing similar situations, it became easier navigate these ambiguous moments. Also, I try to navigate this ambiguity by setting small, weekly goals that when achieved, give me a sense of stability. For example, last week my goal was to try to talk more to my co-workers. By the end of the week, even if I couldn’t have complex conversations, it was clear for me that I had opened up a little more.

As well, while I do often feel uncertain about my abilities and I am always scared of not doing my tasks correctly, my co-workers are usually very patient and thoughtful when explaining new assignments to me. They meticulously go over what I should do and always offer help in case I need anything. I work closely to one of my coworkers, so every couple of days, she checks my work to see how things are going. Since I have to do a very specific type of writing and translation, she wants to make sure that even if I am struggling a bit, we are always communicating to guarantee that I am on the right track.  This style of work has helped a lot as I feel like I always have a sense of direction at work.

Lastly, I would say what causes me to experience the most uncertainty is definitely the language barrier and fatigue. Learning a language is never a linear path, and I was aware of that. Being here makes me feel as if one day I think my French skills are really improving and the next day I can barely keep up a basic conversation. This process can be very exhausting, especially when considering that in a work environment, we are constantly be trying to be motivated in order to benefit the most out of this experience. I still experience moments at work where I can only understand the bare minimum, and that causes a big sense of confusion in my mind. Yet, I think that this is just a consequence that comes with language immersion. As tiring as it can be, the sense of ambiguity and confusion tends to get a little better week by week. I have seen some progress already, and I am excited to see how far I will have improved by the end of my eight weeks!