9 August 2016

Afterthoughts from a Summer in Paris

Paris was magical – the city of lights – the city many dream of visiting one day to tick it off their bucket list. And today, it’s been ticked off mine. I remember having all these dreams about Paris and all these fantasies surrounding this elusive place floating around in my head. Perhaps some of these fantasies weren’t mine to make happen. But I learnt, and I grew.

My favourite part of my Industry Placement Program in Paris was the 15-hour long days. No, not 15-hour work-and-school long. But the fact that the skies stayed bright till 10pm daily, made the trip back home from school and work that much more comforting.

Some say that Paris was their city to revisit and fall in love with all over again, for me it was a city to venture out of my comfort zone, grow and learn to thrive in.

Yes, it is tough – so tough that this experience will redefine what you ever thought tough was. There are bound to be hiccups. If you asked me specifically to tell you what was difficult for me; the list is long – adapting to a foreign environment, losing your way through the streets, going through long days at work and having to stay awake through the night classes. The program is incredibly intensive. But if you know what you’ve signed up for, you’ll also know that it’s worth it.

For me, the best parts were getting to know the people, listening to their stories, and hearing about their experiences firsthand. You’d be surprised how much you get simply by asking someone if they’d like to grab coffee and sit down for a chat. The nuances of working life and how they ended up here get revealed in the process, shedding light on all the wonders on everyday life, and reminding you that there are so many people out there in this world walking their paths, many with worries of their own… That how could you ever complain no matter how tough your own situation is? And this is also why I write, and share my stories. Because I know how intimidating it can be to go on a program and have no idea what it’s like when you get to the other side. If you’d like to hear more, write to me here.

A year ago I asked myself, ‘What would you not believe if I told you what your life would be like in the future?’ One of my answers was to embark on this very program to Paris.

Six weeks ago, I asked myself what I was doing in Paris when all I was doing was struggling. Six weeks later I breeze my way through the airport, reflecting on how I’d been given the chance to take on this very program I’d dreamt about going on.

In Paris, I learnt the real potential of having 24 hours in a day and the number of things you can do with 24 hours.

I learnt that everything is a matter of perspective.

I learnt that there’s a lot to love. We can’t always expect things to be perfect, but there will be times that go tremendously well and you will be thankful.

I’ll end off this post (and my summer adventures) with one of my all-time favourite quotes by Howard Thurman that I hope you take away with you:

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

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

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