Jenna O’Flynn: Case Study – Paris 2023-2024

Words cannot describe how amazing my past 5 months in Paris were.

It was more incredible than I ever thought it would be and it will be an experience that I will never forget. I would like to thank the John Speak Trust for their generosity in providing me with funding throughout my time there. This funding allowed me to be able to immerse myself fully in Parisian culture by visiting places, museums and partaking in other activities which I might have not been able to without it. Furthermore, when living in a place like Paris, the increased cost of living is very noticeable in terms of things such as rent but also daily expenditures such as food and transport, therefore any extra funding is highly appreciated.

L'Arc de Triomphe

L’Arc de Triomphe

So, my Paris adventure started at the start of September when I started my internship at an advertising company in Boulogne-Billancourt, a suburb about 2 metro stops outside of Paris. This internship really gave me an insight into an authentic French office and also the working world, which is one of the reasons why I chose to do an internshipjenna O pic3 instead of studying. By working in an environment where only French was spoken, by Christmas I had noticed a big improvement in my confidence in my spoken French but also my listening from being surrounded by it all the time. Right from the start, all my training was in French, due to a lack of English-speaking people, so if I wanted to understand things properly and immerse myself in the company, I had to speak French. Obviously, this was hard at the start and there was a bit of miscommunication and not understanding everything but as I got used to it, I found myself thinking in French and being able to put together coherent sentences a lot faster. From studying languages, you often find that you know the vocabulary and grammar etc. but when it comes to using it and recalling it from your brain, it takes a bit of time and practice. But as I started to use the same expressions over and over again, they became much more natural and I didn’t have to think about them as much.
The great part about working too was that after work or at the weekends I was able to explore Paris and local areas without having to worry about doing any studying. I found that Paris is the most beautiful city, and I would love going on runs or just walking along the Seine past all the sites – it really never got boring. After having visited all the sites numerous times with friends and family when they came to visit, it quickly became clear that although the Eiffel Tower sparkling at night is incredible, for me my favorite monument was L´Arc de Triomphe. I found the architecture stunning, and it such a striking landmark especially being situated in the center of the Champs-Élysées round about.

JOF pic2
One of the best parts about living in another place, instead of just visiting it for travel, is that you get to experience real local life in the city. For me one thing which was interesting before I went was how accurate were the stereotypes of Parisians. You hear all these stereotypes about such as ‘French people don´t like foreigners’, one of the most searched when I typed it in on Google. Sadly, I did have some negative experiences when speaking French but as everywhere there are encouraging and kind people and also ones that aren’t so much. However, I would say that this pushed me more because I was determined to not let any negative comments knock my confidence at trying to improve my French – ultimately this was what I was here for so I was going to make sure that I got the most out of it. So even though there were some not so pleasant experiences, this is what I found to be the most character-building experience as it teaches you to not care about how others react to you and to do the best to help yourself progress. These are important skills that will be useful to take forward into the workplace, along with others that I developed from carrying out an internship.
Living in a capital city as well always attracts a variety of nationalities s and gives you an opportunity to work and meet some many different people from all walks of life. I met several people in Paris who are now friends for life and it’s so exciting to have international friends all over the world. Not only does it give you a chance to visit other places but also you learn so much about a culture from being with a native.

I would like to thank the trust again for kindly offering me a scholarship and that thanks to them enabling me to experience Paris to the full, I now know that after I graduate I would 100% want to move and live there permanently.

This furthermore is great motivation to keep my French language at a high level so I can use it further down the line.

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