30 June 2015

Our adventures in Paris begin

I write this blog post on the Eurostar as it zooms to London after surviving my first week of the Paris International Placement Program (IPP). Last weekend, twenty undergrads and postgrads from the Business School descended upon Paris, some even managing to squeeze in trips to Lisbon and Barcelona enroute. Travel is an obvious perk of the program and we intended to make the most of it!

Seine River, 9:30pm

But it’s not all play without hard work. The first days were long with work placements from 9am to 5pm and after that, French language classes and European Union studies lectures at Sciences Po until 9pm. Thankfully, summer is Paris means sunset at 10:30pm, so you’d hardly notice that you’ve just survived an intellectually stimulating and physical (walking, hopping on-off the Metro) 12-hour day. After class, we could still go for a wander to take photos, have dinner at a cafe (cheese and wine, if you prefer) and pick up groceries on the way back to our hotel. Unfortunately, shopping the mid-year sales is only possible on weekends. There’s only so much you can fit into a day in Paris!

Sciences Po
The first week of working aboard was eventful. My supervisor turned out be based in Berlin, which although unexpected, is beginning to teach me skills on remote working relationships. All my colleagues are French and speak only French during lunchtimes, which is good incentive to work harder on my French!

Sciences Po Courtyard

I get to walk past the Louvre every day (not many can say this!) enroute to classes at Sciences Po which start at 6pm. French architecture is spectacular and you have to experience the scale of the buildings, boulevards and bridges in person, as photos taken on your iPhone fail to do it justice. The city is steeped in history - my office shares the same laneway as the house where Mozart spent his last days, while famous European treaties were signed merely a few blocks away from our classroom in Sciences Po.


Undoubtedly, the highlight of the week for all of us was the visit to the Australian Embassy where we met with Ambassador Stephen Brady, who graciously hosted us at his residence and was very generous with his time. He shared his insights on the globalisation of the workforce for our generation and candidly took us through his career path and the complexities of his role in the hopes of encouraging us to consider an intellectually rewarding career in international relations. We spent over two hours at the 800m2 residence which overlooked the Tour Eiffel and admired the stunning Aboriginal and modern Australian art and interior design which was truly representative of Australian identity. A special thank you from all of us to Carson for making the meeting with Ambassador Brady possible!

Australian Embassy

Bon weekend as we venture off on our first weekend in Europe - London, Munich, Prague, Rouen and Versailles are just some of the destinations that our group will cover in the next 48 hours. Next week we will be moving from our hotel accommodation to Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris (Cité U for short) to immerse ourselves in Parisian student life. A bientot!

Farah Tan
Current student at the University of Sydney Business School and participant in the International Placement Program in Paris, France

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