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Q&A: What an Internship Abroad is Like

AIX Spring19 Mpinn Sitefinity making coffee

I had the great opportunity to meet with Olivia Moran, a CEA student participating in an internship here in Aix-en-Provence, to discuss what she likes most about her work and what she does on a daily basis. Olivia’s internship seems to be a very comfortable yet professional environment, with people who are willing to help at any time. Olivia mentioned that it not only has helped her improve her French, but has taught her more about working with and helping customers, especially in a different culture. Olivia’s responsibilities include working behind the counter, making and serving coffee and working on her placement’s social media for their website. Check out the questions below, answered by Olivia, to learn more about her experience with CEA and her internship abroad!

Introduction & CEA background

Name: Olivia Moran

Year: Sophomore

Major: Language and International Trade and Economics double major

School: Clemson University

CEA program: CEA internship program, Aix-en-Provence

Why did you choose CEA?

I thought they offered really cool opportunities that other third parties didn’t provide, and it seemed like a great program to help me through a semester abroad!

What do you like most about CEA?

The fact that they really helped us get oriented in Aix, and that we still have fun group activities together!

What is your housing like?

I live in an apartment with another CEA student about two minutes from school. It is very old and very French, and I love it!

Internship Questions

Why did you want to do an internship abroad and how did you decide on the location you applied for?

I actually have to have an internship abroad or with a foreign company in order to graduate with my major, so getting my internship done abroad seemed like a great option. I decided on Aix because it looked beautiful and would give me a chance to practice my French language skills while better acquainting myself with the culture.

What was your first day on the job like?

I was definitely nervous and I didn’t speak much, because I was afraid my boss would misunderstand me! We just went over the basics of the job and she was very nice and helpful.

What were your thoughts when you heard about your internship placement?

I was excited to get to know a more realistic work environment in France and also relieved because I was a server for four years in the U.S., so I knew I would be able to use my previous knowledge.

What’s the best part so far of your internship?

Getting to know my boss and the regular customers who come in every day.

Did you get to do things as an intern that you would not have gotten to do as a student?

I definitely get to experience more of the local culture and atmosphere and learn French in a more casual setting, which I wouldn’t have been able to do if I were just taking a class.

Were there aspects of the internship that you had doubts about? How did you deal with that?

I was nervous about being by myself in a smaller setting in a foreign country, and I knew that the service industry was very different here, so I definitely had some doubts. My boss was so nice and I practiced writing down all the words she taught me and we practiced my verb conjugations too! After a couple weeks, everything felt normal and I settled into a routine.

Mackenzie Pinn is the Spring 2019 CEA MOJO Photographer in Aix-en-Provence, France, and is currently studying at Colorado State University.
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