Interning abroad, this past summer, was one of the best learning experiences in my life. It was a learning experience and a culture shock for the first couple weeks, but soon my colleagues stopped treating me like an “ugly American” and I embraced the Parisian lifestyle. Communicating and working with people from different backgrounds and languages is something I would recommend doing. It was challenging at times because I knew that my colleagues spoke English, but I wanted to practice my French as much as possible. It was important to be mindful of some values that could be different. I always thought very carefully about what I said to my colleagues because some information or topics are not openly discussed in France. The French had a sense of community and were very welcoming when I arrived. I learned that they make friends for a lifetime and I truly did while I worked there.
It was an odd feeling, the day off the Paris bombings, less than a month ago, thinking about my friends and where they could be in the city during the attacks. I learned about their university life and how Greek life was not relevant. The country values hard work, but also enjoys leisure and take advantage of life. Their values and censorship are relatively the same as in the United States so working alongside Parisians was almost the same as in the states. Many say that Europeans are lazy, but I met some of the diligent and successful workers while abroad. I learned the importance of food at meetings with higher status employees and also learned patience, since everything I learned was in another language.
I feel so lucky to have experienced the summer in Paris. With all the museums, parks and pastries, I was overwhelmed with adoration and miss it every day. I hope to work with my colleagues again, one day, and am happy to have been able to work alongside them.