5 July 2016

Embracing the Change…

I love to travel, who doesn’t? Visiting a new place always excites me. Just thinking about the places to see, the must do and must eat - thrills me.  Visiting a place for the second time however, gives me a different kind of enthusiasm, as this time I will have the opportunity to take a closer look at the place. I joined a European tour 6 years ago and Paris was one of the places we visited. I was a tourist then and mostly everything was arranged for us. This time is a different story as I will be working, studying and living like a Parisian.

Some are probably wondering why I applied for this internship.  I’m not surprised as even I asked myself the same question.  I have worked for quite a while now so to be an intern would probably sound bizarre to many, but I believe nothing is too old for anyone, and this is an opportunity that I just cannot forgo – as I will have a chance to live, work, and study for 6 weeks like a Parisian.  So I went ahead and applied, did the interview and assessment, and was elated when I learned that I passed.  And so the preparation started.  I booked my flights and listed what I needed to bring and do. We were given an orientation so we would have all the necessary information before the trip. I met the group for the first time during the orientation and found out how young they were. I realised that most of them are my sons’ age.  Not to worry, that didn’t bother me at all. I met some of them in Hong Kong on my flight to Paris, and took the train with them from the airport to Maisons Des Mines, our home for the next 6 weeks.

It was raining when we got off at Luxembourg station.  There we were dragging our luggage, finding our way to our temporary home.  It’s always interesting when you arrive at a place for the first time, there’s always that feeling of anxiousness, insecurity, and uncertainty, as you are not sure what awaits you.  Just like when I opened my room and found out that I will be sleeping in a bunk bed with stairs. I got used to it after 3 days, but at first I was so scared that I might fall.  There is always something unfamiliar and unexpected, but there’s nothing that you cannot be adjusted to.  The more you resist any changes, the more difficult it will be to overcome. As I always say to myself, bend it and let go.

As expected, first week was hectic and a bit stressful, as I had to learn as quickly as I can - about the place, the people, language, getting to work/school, the best route to take if I decide to walk, where to get food, a SIM, and laundry facilities.  At the same time, I had to meet my host organisation for the first time and attend classes as well.  One thing good about Paris is that it’s walking friendly, so with a local SIM and Google Maps you can literally find your way to any place.

We are now on our second week and things are getting easier as I get more familiar to the city and its people.  One thing I should say is that I think that it’s important to plan and be organised before the trip.  Find out as much information about the place, accommodation, transportation, SIM, what to bring etc. I know they are basic but it helps to cross them off your list when you are embarking on a new journey.  Particularly in my case because I don’t like surprises, at least if I can avoid them. I want to be able to focus on unforeseen surprises and challenges, rather than thinking of where to buy supplies or toiletries. Especially on my first week, I want to devote my energy and mind in getting to know the place, the people, my host organisation (Marmiton) and the university (SciencesPo).  Moreover, to understand what is expected of me during the internship/study.  One important thing to mention was how lucky we were to be in Europe at the time of the Brexit decision - perfect timing as we are learning about European/European Union politics at SciencesPo.

What I have learned so far is that it doesn’t matter how prepared you are, how much travel you have done in the past, and how much study/work experience you have had, there is always something new to discover and learn.  And this is one of the reasons why I joined the program. I know there will always be surprises and challenges, and whatever they are I’m ready to embrace them, as I know it will make me a better person in the end.  

Sheila Baugh
Current student of The University of Sydney Business School and participant in the Industry Placement Program in Paris

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