Life as a French intern – One week down

2nd June 2016

Place la Bourse in Bordeaux, the water mirror by night, France

After finishing my 4th year of studies at business school in Bordeaux, France, the time came for me to look for my fourth internship. There was no doubt about it, I knew I wanted to work in event management, having previously worked on some big sports events in France (such as the French MotoGP or the 24 Hours of Le Mans), but the question was: where?

French Business schools request that students do their internships anywhere but in France. I knew I wanted to stay in Europe and soon enough my thoughts turned to England. Having lived in London for a previous internship, being a third culture kid and being raised in a British environment at home it seemed obvious that London was to be my dream destination.

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The next task…who would have me? It took me a month, but finally I found the perfect internship here at House of Experience. Could I have found anything better? I doubt it! I feel at home already, working in a dynamic and fun team, and having already had the opportunity to work across two creative and exciting projects it’s been a great start. Anyway back to my story…

Finding accommodation was the next challenge! It took me two weeks to find somewhere that wasn’t prohibitively expensive, but luckily I found somewhere great in East London: three floors, six bedrooms, six female flat mates. Four of us French (we’re everywhere), one Dutch and one Italian. And sure, I have the smallest room in the whole flat and I still don’t know whose job it is to take the bins out, but at least I have a cosy place where I feel at home. And that was it, before I knew it I was packing my bags and was on the train on my way to St. Pancras station to start the next chapter of my life as an intern.

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Oyster Card in hand I stepped out into the station, walked right through to the Tube, when I came to face my first existential question concerning London – why are there escalators in almost every station of central London and not in St. Pancras (or at least not everywhere)? Isn’t it the station where we end up needing the escalators the MOST?

That being said, I had forgotten how much I had missed the London Tube – and yes, you’re reading this right. Coming from Paris I have never seen anything cleaner than the London Tube. I had missed the polite voices warning me to “stand clear of the closing doors”, to “mind the gap please, mind the gap” and even the occasional “please let the passengers off the train first, I know it’s busy but everybody please keep calm and above all do not panic, please do not panic, you will get in one way or another”. Oh how I had missed the British sense of humour.

At first I thought it was going to take me some time to reacquaint myself to the English lifestyle but really it was just about picking up the old habits. Funnily enough, I have found I actually feel more at home in London than in Paris. I tend to think the United Kingdom’s capital is a bit of an upgraded version of Paris: clean streets, clean Tube, great architecture, great people… until I remembered the cost of living! £124 for a Zone 1 and 2 Oyster Card per month? Really London? Not even £50 in Paris FYI.

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It always surprises me how different cultures are so well integrated into the London lifestyle; it is the perfect example of a cosmopolitan city. I love seeing people from everywhere, wearing anything and everything, practicing every religion without it causing a national debate.

Londoners live their life in harmony with other people, and having discussed this with my other French friends interning here, we can all agree that there is so much Paris could learn from London concerning tolerance and acceptance. It is definitely one aspect that is very different from France where we are struggling with what they call “l’identité nationale”, the national identity and what it means to be French.

That being said let us not forget that I am French, and that there are very high risks I might never be accepted again among my fellow citizens after writing this eulogistic article. Therefore, I am entitled to comment on the fact that I still think it is time for the UK to stop driving on the wrong side of the road, to actually start getting interested in what a good baguette is and that, yes, I am sure you can do something about the terrible weather you have here. There, I can now officially conclude this post by saying I have another 15 weeks to go in London and am looking forward each and every moment I spend here!

Stay tuned for another update from a French intern in the experiential world, coming soon.

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