Il faut en profiter.
Looking back on my ten months in Paris and my two months working at the American Library, I have come to realize that this simple phrase, one of my favorite in French, has become a devise for my experiences abroad. A reason to explore one more world-renowned museum. An excuse to try one more beautifully crafted patisserie. Or a mantra for a certain way of life: a cultured, reflective, and appreciative understanding of all that Paris has to offer.
My year abroad has been one of the most challenging and stimulating of my life. Through classes at the Sorbonne, travels around Europe, and even the most mundane of days, I have learned more about French culture, and myself, than I had ever expected. When my academic year ended, I was able to stay and work at the American Library with the help of Smith College’s internship program. This opportunity has allowed me to experience a French work environment—an uncharacteristic and very dusty one at that, thanks to the current renovation works—and to single-handedly tackle a large Reference project for the CAPES/Agrégation exams. I have taken advantage of the vast collection, the first reading material in English I have had all year, and of the days spent with the supportive staff members, who have helped me with everything from finding the best places for lunch to brainstorming job opportunities for the future.
After I graduate from Smith, I plan on pursuing degrees in French Literature and Library Science and hope to relocate permanently to Paris, a wonderful city which I will miss dearly. I have ten bittersweet days left before I leave for Maine and plan to make the most of them sous le ciel de Paris, with a good book and a glass of wine. Après tout, il faut en profiter.