Friday, August 15, 2014

My Summer Internship- More than a Professional Experience

There are numerous advantages to participating in an internship opportunity. The experience allows most people to have an understanding of their studies in a practical sense, develops communication skills, and stimulates professional behavior and conduct. My internship at ESC Rennes, Les Admissibles, did all of this and so much more.

For two months, I was fully integrated with my French peers as well as international students from countries like Japan, Greece, Colombia, India, Mexico, and Spain. We were all responsible for accommodating and aiding incoming candidates of ESC Rennes. During this period, I got to use and improve my language skills, work with a diverse team of students, and develop long-term friendships.

I not only was able to be a part of the Desk Team of Admissibles whom welcomed and assisted Les Admissibles, I was also able to perform in the nightly production  of “Rennes En Live” written, performed, and directed  by a team of 30 Admisseurs (those of us facilitating Les Admissibles). This not only allowed my language skills to grow, but also helped me become comfortable speaking in front of literally hundreds of French students who only knew my nationality after they heard my accent.

The neatest part about Les Admissibles was that we, the students of ESC, ran the entire operation with minimal help from administration. There are countless people whom I would like to thank for giving me the opportunity to take part in a foreign internship but even more whom I am grateful for getting to know me, encouraging me, and touching my life forever.
Angie and I working hard at the Desk!

Learning how to make sushi! Thanks, Naoki!

My last night in Rennes with great people!

The advantages of interning are countless, and in today’s highly competitive business community, they are what differentiate the many students and graduates of this field. I am so thankful to be able to say that I acquired knowledge about business, soft skills, and team dynamics during this period. The best part of the experience, though, was creating friendships and relationships that span farther than oceans and continents. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Week-end à la plage

When I returned to Rennes after my vacation to England, it was time to gear up for the arrival of Les Admissibles. We needed to decorate the school with our beach themed decorations, organize our reception, and make welcome packs!

I had decided to take part in the show that the French students would put on for the candidates each night. I figured I would just be a pompom girl and help backstage but I was lucky enough to get a role in “G’Rennes Anatomy” a parody of Grey’s Anatomy. I would have to speak French for the role and after one train wreck rehearsal, I made sure to learn all of my text for the next day. Although I was super nervous, I did my best to keep a smile and stay in character.

After a couple of weeks of welcoming the candidates, we all had a weekend free to head to the beach in St. Malo. My friend Mary was kind enough to host us at her family’s vacation home there! We spent a day on the beach, soaking up sun and swimming in the sea. It was just what I needed!

That evening, we prepared a nice dinner and cocktails and enjoyed our little French cottage which was once a barn! The next day, we went to get authentic Bretagne Galette. We also got to ride through the city and take in the fresh sea air as well as get an amazing view of the coast!

I returned home refreshed and ready to tackle the final weeks of my internship. I can’t believe it’s already time to start packing!

ESC Friends

Beautiful Seaside View

David, Mary, and I

Posing in Greek Love shirt with my Greek friend, Anastasia!

Visit to the Old Country/ Rennes'union

After a few weeks of preparing for the Admissibles to arrive, I had a weekend off and was headed to England to visit Emma and Alex! Even though it was only a few days, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to catch up with my girls and discover a new country. I set off for the old country, 5 hours of trains then a ferry into Dover!

I was welcomed into the country by Emma and we immediately went into tourist mode. We walked through the charming streets of Canterbury. Emma shared stories of things she had done in different parts of the town and played tour guide throughout our walk. I loved the architecture and history of this little village! I even saw ancient Roman ruins that were thousands of years old!

I was tired after a long day of travel and it was almost dinner time so we headed home to Emma’s where I would meet her lovely family! I can’t describe how nice it was to be in a family home with luxuries and comforts us college students forget! I am so thankful that the Castledine’s are so warm and welcoming!
The next morning we headed out early to go to London where we would meet Alex who would arrive from Ireland and briefly see Marina who was headed to see some friends in another part of England. After a month apart, our reunion was blissful! We had many things to talk about, stories to share, and places to see.

We only had one full day in town and did everything we possibly could! We went to the palace, saw Big Ben and the London Eye, and ventured down toward the London Bridge and saw Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, then crossed the Millennium bridge and went onto St. Paul’s Cathedral. My favorite stop was for lunch (of course) at an amazing outdoor food market. There were so many vegetarian and vegan options and I was ecstatic! I finally decided on a lovely Indian mix with fresh brewed mint tea to drink. Later on, as it started to pour, we soon found a café to stay warm in and we caught up over cappuccinos.

Once the rain stopped, we headed back to the hostel and got ready for our night out. The girls introduced Wetherspoons to me. A chain of reasonably priced restaurants with great drinks and atmosphere spread around the UK. They had a veggie burger, so I was content. We spent the night over drink in the quirky little restaurant then headed out to a pub so that I could have the authentic English experience. The next day, we went to a street market and did a little browsing before heading to the train station.

I had a wonderful time with the girls and Emma’s family during my stay. It was extremely difficult to leave them but we knew it was more of a “see you later” rather than goodbye. Fortunately I will be seeing these two lovely ladies in Nice before I head back to the States!

London Eye

Reunion at Buckingham Palace 


Traditional Phone Booth Photo

My First Internship!

Isn’t it funny how we plan the unknown? Somehow when I left the States, I had the sense to decline buying a return ticket, to pay for rent through summer months, and to buy a bus/metro pass valid until June 30. I must have known that some amazing opportunity would come up and allow me to stay in France after courses ended. This opportunity happened to be a paid internship at my host university.

I was hired to be a member of an amazing team of 120 Admisseurs, or facilitators, for exams candidates of ESC Rennes would come to take. This job would require me to work in French with my peers and to treat my school as a business.  We would organize the entire event and aid the candidates during their visit at the school. This would be our opportunity to show students from around France, even Europe, how awesome our school is!

We would spend one month in preparation for the arrival of the candidates. We needed to visit different businesses and bargain for decorations, supplies, and treats all for our incoming Admissibles. I knew it would difficult to begin speaking French for about 75% of the day but it would become easier and easier as time passed, I was sure. We needed to undergo trainings, organize meetings, and become a team within the first few days.

I decided that my goal during this internship was to become more integrated with the French students, to improve my language skills, and to enjoy the rest of my time in Europe!

"Getting to know you" picnic

Family Rendez-vous in the City of Lights

It was finally the end of April, exams were finished and I was on my way to Paris to meet my family! I was so excited to play tour guide in Paris! It felt so bizarre to know that less than 3 years ago I discovered this magnificent city for the first time and now it was my 15th! This time, I knew the big sites and even some of the history behind them, I knew how to speak the language, and I knew I would really enjoy my visit since I was with my family (and was on their budget, just kidding)!

When I finally arrived at the apartment my parents were staying at, I was extremely anxious to see my little sister, Brooklyn. I had not seen her in almost an entire year and that was the most time we’d ever gone without seeing each other. There is nothing like seeing her, happy, in my favorite city! We made sure to get a picture together on our balcony with the Eiffel Tower behind!

The week was filled with tourism and I wanted to make sure my family had a good experience, not only in France but in Europe. We visited the l'Arc de Triumph, Champs Elysee, and walked to the Grande Palais and Concord, Pont Alexandre, and other great sites of Paris. My day was when it was Alison’s (my step mom) birthday! We dressed up and had lunch in the Eiffel Tower! We were also able to explore Versaille before the week closed.

We were able to meet some of my friends passing through Paris, Luana and Carolina from Brazil, and Alex from Ireland! Brooklyn absolutely adored each of them and followed them like a shadow. I was happy to be able to introduce my family to my friends and give them a glimpse my life in France. Brooklyn was keeping a journal of the week and each of her new friends featured in it!

The week was full of discoveries and family fun! I even managed to get a Skype interview from the Center for International Education at UNC and later found out that I was accepted for the Peer Advisor position for the coming year! It was truly a week of great things! By the end of the week, I was sad to see my family leave, especially knowing that I was going back to "different" Rennes since my friends had all gone back to their countries. Although this was difficult to take in, I was looking forward to beginning my internship at ESC Rennes and making new friends!Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. once said that “a mind that is stretched by a new experience may never go back to its old dimensions.” This quote not only encompasses the past year but also the future to come and I re-entered Rennes with this idea in mind.

I must thank my Dad and Alison for coming to visit me and for making the week amazing. Also, shout out for Brooklyn for being a rock star 5 year old and walking miles upon miles in Paris. I must also mention how much I admire my dad, an amputee, for walking those miles right along with us in one of the most Handicapable-unfriendly cities, and of course, Alison for being the the one who keeps us all together. I love you, guys!

I Love You mural in Montmartre

Enjoying French Pastries

"Picnic" Lunch in the Eiffel Tower
Barbe de Papa by our favorite site!

Friday, June 20, 2014

La Fin du Semestre

April was full of fun. The weather was beautiful, the semester was finishing up, and we discovered a lot of fun places.

Maren, a friend who was on exchange at ESC last semester came back for a mini reunion! We all picked up right where we left off and had a great time being together. We went for crepes, met friends for a night of dancing at Cubanacan, and drank cups of tea and caught up. I’m looking forward to seeing Maren when I return to the U.S (she moved to Mexico)!

The next week, we began studying for exams and decided to have a group study at Parc de Thabor. That week there was a performing arts exhibition called Mythos. Funky lamps and gypsy decoration adorned a large portion of the park, perfect for having picnics, studying, and lying in the sun. Our week was perfect!
In April I was also accepted into an internship held by ESC Rennes for Les Admissibles 2014. This opportunity would allow me to stay in France through July while working in French. I am so thankful for being hired and allowed to enjoy a few more months of life in Europe!

As we started exams and began wrapping up the semester, we began realizing that our time together was limited and people were getting ready to travel Europe or return to their home countries. We spent our free time meeting up and having dinner chez bresiliennes. Soon exams were closing and we had to fit in packing, closing accounts, on top of making sure to do our favorite things in Rennes. I said my final goodbyes when I left for Paris to meet my Dad, Alison, and Brooklyn. It was bittersweet!

Happy to have Maren back!

Mythos Festival

Final soiree!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

My First Bungee Jump, Saut de Coeur!

It seems like I have been able to find a lot of what I have been looking for in these past months. J’ai les chances. It seems as though whenever any of us are looking for something interesting or fun, we are able to find it. It is all thanks to the rich community lives that French people know how to appreciate.

First, our little group was chatting about wanting to find something fun for the weekend. We then saw a poster for  a benefit supporting HIV awareness: a bungee jump! Saut de Coeur was being hosted by the IRO Association of ESC Rennes and  was our opportunity to jump from 60 meters off of the ground, equivalent to an 18 story building. We had found our weekend activity!

We all decided we were going to check it out. I was sure that I was going to do it! No problem, right? We arrived on the Saturday morning filled with butterflies and determination! The cool thing about conquering a fear is that it shows you a new side of yourself. I watched three of my friends go before me, and I finally realized as I watched all of them take the leap I realized how scared I was and I wasn’t so sure I could do it anymore. I felt my fear mounting as I looked at the beautiful skylines of Rennes from 200ft up, and after several seconds, I finally found the courage to simply let go. I felt like I was going in slow motion as I felt gravity pulling me down. I opened my eyes to see and now can always remember the peace I felt in those moments that I faced a fear I never knew I had. 

This was an exciting experience for the group of us had done together and made us bond even more. I am so happy I can look back on these random, quirky, and life changing experiences and remember the friendships built within the past year.
My jump!

Pre-Bungee Photo