17 August 2016

To Reflect is to Learn

I'm back home! After six weeks, I was all set to go home but on the morning of my departure, I got an email from my airline that my flight was cancelled due to bad weather condition in Hong Kong. What? Yes, so much for getting home! After waiting for a day, they were able to arrange my return flight with another airline. Totally out of my control, but I decided to look at it in a positive light - better to be safe than sorry.

So now that my internship is over, it’s time to reflect on my experiences.  Not only because I need to for my presentation, but also because I feel that my experiences will be worthless if I don’t learn from them. But before that, let’s rewind so I can tell you more about the rest of my time in Paris.

Overall, the 6-week-internship has been a great and rewarding experience.  Despite some drama, I enjoyed my time in Paris.  As planned, I managed to tick ‘my list’ - must see, eat and do. I found out how nice Parisian people are, at least this myth was proven wrong by my workmates at Marmiton, staff and lecturers in SciencesPo and people whom I happened to bump with (like the guy from the nearby ‘Boulangerie’ bakery).  However, the longer I’m in Paris, the more that I realised the benefit of being able to speak the language - if only I could speak conversationally.  With beauty such as Paris, you can easily get lost and forget about work and school, as there’s just so much to see and do.  So I made sure I kept myself in check, by focusing on work and school on weekdays.

I was really fortunate to have attended lectures on European Union (EU) at the time when Brexit was happening. We were presented with interesting topics on EU, though there were nights when I was too tired to absorb everything. Our French classes were also fun, actually always fun – maybe because the class members are cool? Or perhaps we are all beginners?  The thing was everybody just enjoyed learning the language, which meant soon as we got in the classroom, we were just delighted to be there.  Our ‘institutional day’ trip was pretty exciting as well.  They have arranged for us to visit the National Assembly; where we observed a session in progress (but only for few minutes as not all of us could understand it fully), Town Hall (Hotel De Ville) and the very cosy Australian Embassy office with a knockout view of the Eiffel Tower.  The office was beautiful, and our ambassador, Stephen Grady, kindly chatted with us and organised an afternoon tea despite his busy schedule. Oh, and OECD invited all of us, including our supervisors, to a cocktail evening and that was refreshing as well, as we got the chance to meet managers of different host companies and were able to exchange greetings and interesting stories.

As you can see, I’m not complaining. I have no regrets. I’m not saying that everything went perfectly. I don’t think that ever happens. There will always be ups and downs, problems, fun and sad times. There will be times when you will ask yourself if you made the right decision, especially in my case because I’m away from work without pay. Sometimes, you will be frustrated especially when your expectations were not met, or when things don’t go your way.  At times, you will feel alone and will be missing your family and friends back home.  But these are all part of the game, of the adventure.  The important thing is surviving through them, which I’m sure, our group or anyone else who signed up for programs like this is capable of doing so. We wouldn’t have joined if we knew we weren’t up for it.

So as I reflect through my experiences, I realise that there is always something to learn and one should not stop learning, no matter their age. We should take every opportunity given to us to discover more about our world and how diverse people are. As only through this can we better understand and appreciate each other. Lastly, this experience made me reflect on myself more closely, in terms of what I really want in the future and being more aware of my character relative to other people and situations.  This is the best outcome for me, as I know this will take me a long, long way.  So for those interested in joining any internship programs, I encourage you to do so but one thing to keep in mind - be realistic with your expectations, and make sure you don’t leave Sydney without some.

For now, I’m leaving you with this quote from Confucius.  Until next time…
‘Learning without reflection is a waste, reflection without learning is dangerous’

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

No comments:

Post a Comment