Funny enough, I did that a year ago and still do today.
1 year in Paris. Wow. Save for a week long visa pit-stop in Vancouver, I’ve spent the last 13 months (post overdue) living a distant 8,000km from my hometown. What began as an academic exchange gave way to a year long jaunt through an internship that’s been personally rewarding and career defining. While probably not unconventional, I’d say I took a road less traveled from my Canadian peers (yet seems so commonplace here). Anyways, a couple important things I’ve learned over the last year:
Self reflection. There’s something about crossing an ocean to live, study and work abroad that’s allowed me to hone in on my personal and professional priorities. The French social norms, cultural references and life philosophies have made me much more aware of my North American background and values. Being abroad has also given me a new found appreciation for Vancouver’s beautiful outdoors and the West Coast atmosphere that I always took for granted (although I can’t say the same for the Pacific Northwest rain). Most importantly, studying and working abroad has highlighted the importance of getting an international taste of business.
Keeping in touch. Sometimes it feels like being frozen in time watching friends graduate, enter the corporate world and move to new phases in their lives. The distance has tested relationships with friends and family – I’ve traded daily camaraderie for infrequent updates and highlight sessions. It’s deceptively easy for relationships fall way side and takes thrice as much effort to keep up. Facebook, Twitter, Skype and the telephone are all essential tools. It’s been the same over here to as many of the amazing people that I’ve met here have gone to study abroad, intern internationally or do a cross-campus exchange.
Realistic expectations. I hawed at my friend’s claim of the Paris Syndrome as a legitimate disorder. There’s more to the city than the temples of Ladurée, Louvre and Louis Vuitton. It’s not perfect: petty crime, maintaining tradition and the sometimes off-putting indifferent attitude. And that’s only the surface. But it reinforced how important it is to keep an open mind and maintain no/realistic expectations. Cross-cultural transitions past the honeymoon phase can be challenging, and it’s definitely important to “keep it real”.
On another note I’ve got to applaud the amazing TEDxESCP event I attended this weekend. I was fortunate enough to score a ticket to the inaugural TEDxESCP which a couple of my friends have been feverishly planning over the last 6 months.
Big shout outs to this year’s team on pulling off a fantastic event and putting ESCP on the TED map. It was a slam-packed afternoon which included design minded insight from Prezi, seeing the jaw-dropping work of an aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon and the guitar-ific likes of RIMED. If you missed out on the ticket sales or the live stream, talks should appear on the website in a couple weeks. I’m excited to see who next year’s team brings to the podium, and who knows, maybe even attend.