What I have been learning!

Hi everyone! 

It is crazy to think that I am more than halfway through this study abroad. I remember my first day here, arriving at my host family’s house, extremely insecure with my French and anxious about the upcoming weeks. Nearly a month later, I am very happy to see that I have used this time not only to focus on my work and explore the city, but also to work on my personal goals. I am constantly trying to work on my confidence and trying to become a more flexible person. While it is not always easy, I firmly believe that a big part of any study abroad is learning how we behave in unusual situations, so I am really trying to figure myself out and earn more about my strengths and what needs to be worked on.

This week was relatively uneventful compared to the first few weeks, but nonetheless still busy. I got to go see an incredible dance performance at Montmartre with a friend, had amazing gyozas on Friday night, visited the new Dior Museum (and spent way too much time trying to decide which dress was my favorite as if I were to buy one of them), and overall, just continued my little journey to become more familiar with Paris. 

At work, we are rushing to finish our publication as they are hoping to publish it in the middle of July. While my translation and writing work can be a little monotonous at times, I am very happy that I get to see how this type of work gets done and that I get to be a part of such an important project for the NGO.  I have written nearly 130 events out of the 1,300ish that we will publish, so I am grateful that, even as an intern, I get to contribute to such a substantial amount.

As I said, the nature of my work is very straight-forward, with little space for creativity or innovation. That can sometimes be underwhelming and in the beginning, I felt as if I would not be able to take much out of this experience. However, because I do not speak French fluently, my tasks have allowed me to truly improve on communication. Not only do I have to try to understand the nuances of the language in other to translate it correctly and turn in quality content, but working on translation somewhat forced me not to be shy and always ask for help. A lot of the times, I have to swallow my language insecurities in order to speak to my co-workers about what I am working on in a clear way. As someone who is on the shyer side of the extrovert spectrum, this experience has helped me gain confidence on my communication and active learning skills.  With this being my first internship, I have also been able to work on time management and organization. The fact that I don’t have strict deadlines at work makes it so I need to establish my own pace, being very conscious about developing a routine that is productive and healthy. I started doing very simple goals such as deciding how many compositions I would so a day, writing down any questions or concerns I had to later discuss with my coworker, as well establishing small breaks throughout the day whenever my eyes feel tired from looking at the computer screen.

In terms of hard skills, I unfortunately have not been able to work on them as much as I would like to. Since my work is mainly writing and researching, it falls well withing my comfort zone. As well, I find it a little hard that I will be able to explore other areas of the NGO such as project management or software use simply because of how the NGO operates and because of the project that I am working on. There are only 6 full-time employees and 3 interns, therefore the only people who have more experience with hard skills are the co-directors and one intern who works on the administrative and visual aspects of the NGO. While improving my French can be considered a hard skill, I find that I will not be able to work on more quantifiable skills. 

Lastly, I believe that my interest in understanding different cultures, customs, and points of view been extremely useful during my time in Paris. It allows me to keep being motivated even at frustrating moments when it feels like I am lost or feeling out of place. Cross-cultural situations can be tricky, especially when one does not master both languages. Yet, I think that my experience being an immigrant in the U.S and constantly face cross-cultural situations have prepared me well for this trip. It gave me an idea of how things would be, the feelings that I would feel, and what needed to be done in order to overcome these complicated situations. Overall, I am very happy with all that I have been learning here in Paris and I can’t wait to see what experiences the next few weeks will bring!