Monday, June 22, 2009

La stagiaire

I have now reached the halfway point of this internship: four weeks behind me, four more to go. Out of the seven groups of students coming over for summer programs here, six have arrived, and of those, three have already left. So as it happens, just as I am getting into the swing of things and learning the names of people and streets, the number of people who get to benefit from my increased knowledge keeps getting smaller.

I have to say it's a strange thing being an intern (stagiaire) again at age 33. I have supervised enough student interns in previous jobs to know that the range of capability and initiative can vary greatly from person to person. And I recognized some apprehension at first in the assignment of new tasks, when colleagues wondered just what end of that range I would occupy. Of course, I'm capable of managing my own work, so I don't think they are too worried about me.

My colleagues are busy with their own work, so I'm trying not to be that intern that constantly needs to be helped with her job...but the French language keeps getting in my way! Sometimes people have to explain things to me slowly, or a second time, because of some unfamiliar vocabulary. Sometimes I have to ask for help with wording of a phrase or interpretation of an e-mail I'm writing or reading. In short, I need a little more supervision than I want, which is sometimes frustrating.

And another thing! In general, I think I have a pretty good sense of humor and in general I like to make jokes and laugh with colleagues. Unfortunately, in my experience, the ability to show your full sense of humor is one of the last foreign-language skills to develop. I'm getting there, but not quite as quick on the draw with wit as I would like to be. I should work on this, because I'd much rather be remembered as the intern who was funny but didn't always say things right, than as the intern who spoke perfect French but was really boring to have around.

But overall things are going really well. I have finally learned enough about Dijon and the school to be considered some kind of expert for students with questions. I'm working on an extensive list of upcoming events in/near Dijon: in summer months the music festivals and free events abound! I'm keeping close track of exchange students' fall course registrations; I am involved in serious discussions re: student behavior and how beer pong is not an accepted part of French culture; I have nearly memorized the English-speaking doctor's phone number, and just today learned the word for "rash" (the itchy skin kind, not the behavior kind.) I get to be part of all kinds of fun tasks and activities, and who knows what is in store for the next month!