When in Paris, do as the Parisians do… up to a point
During my third year at university in England, I did a work placement in Paris with Erasmus+. It feels like a lifetime ago; however, when I think back on my university years, it has increasingly become the highlight that I remember first. “Time flies when you’re having fun” is all too true for most Erasmus+ students. So much so that you end up not wanting to come back for your final year of studies.
When you embark on such an experience, it is natural to feel nervous and excited about living and working abroad. You can prepare yourself before your arrival, e.g. by finding accommodation, by mapping your future route to work and to the bank. But there is only so much you can do beforehand; you must be ready to face the unexpected. In my first week in Paris, I found myself in the city centre late with a friend at night, not realising how early the last metros stopped and panic-calling terribly busy taxi services. It was an expensive ride home… But a lesson learned.
While you can never discover all that a city has to offer, sightseeing days are rarely dull, especially in and around Paris: getting lost up the Notre-Dame Cathedral, drinking cheap beers in the Quartier Latin, eating pizzas near the Hotel de Ville, eating snails near the Arc de Triomphe, drinking wine and listening to music on the steps of Montmartre, admiring Versailles’ symmetry, being overwhelmed by the sheer number of religious buildings in the city of one hundred steeples (aka Rouen).
Doing a work placement also comes with its own perks, such as events and team building away-days in fancy hotels on the Champs-Elysées and near the Eiffel Tower, as well as longer important seminars in Chantilly, Royaumont and Compiègne.
Going abroad to work on an Erasmus traineeship is a great way to develop as a person, gain life experience and essential skills, and broaden your mind. You experience a truly international and multicultural environment where you meet new people, new places, and new cultures. I have fond memories, both funny and embarrassing, of my year abroad.
In front of the Notre-Dame Cathedral there is a bronze plate with the words “Point zéro des routes de France” which translates to “Point zero of the roads of France”. In other words, it is the point from which all other distances in France are measured. Rumour has it, if you stand on the Point Zéro, you will someday return to Paris. And I did, for another internship three years later.