My experiences as an intern journalist in Paris.
This year finds me on my year abroad as part of the third year of my 4 year university degree. I am interning with My French Life™ magazine, an online publication for lovers of everything French. This means living in the Northern city of Lille in France, freelancing from home and travelling into Paris a couple of days a week. I don’t think I could have found a more perfect placement!
I’m learning, albeit slowly, the do’s and dont’s of the world of online journalism, and how to survive the busy streets of Paris. And so an idea for a new blog series came to me- a documentation of my experience as a intern journalist in Paris, the successes, catastrophes and lessons I learn trying to be a journalist in the famous City of Light, where so many extraordinary writers have lived and worked in the past.
So far, so good for the writing side of things. I get to write about challenging subjects that interest me and create conversation on social media, and have a satisfying pile of free French literature on my desk for review, which I think makes an enlightening change from what I usually read.
I thought university work was stressful until I started this internship. I was told it would be challenging, and it is. I have so much work to do, writing, editing, interviewing and formatting- but all of it is teaching me so much and I wake up excited about starting every day.
How not to be a journalist in Paris? Don’t count on being anywhere on time, and don’t expect travel to be cheap. The French railway system is awful and there are constant delays. My train was an hour and 20 minutes late getting home a couple of weeks ago- it hit a deer. No, they won’t refund me.
Don’t believe the cliché that all Parisians are un-friendly snobs. I have learned from a fellow Parisian My French Life™ writer Jacqueline that this is far from true (she invites me to her house for cake and we talk about books and France and feminism. What could be better?). That said, don’t expect them all to be nice, either. So far, I have been stood up by a designer after travelling 3 hours by coach to interview her, and have been told by the DELIGHTFUL secretary of a Very Important French Person that it is out of the question that I will EVER be able to speak with him.
Do not turn up to France’s prestigious Prix Goncourt with only your iPhone to take photos on. Seriously, you will be the only one. Note to self: buy a big, complicated looking camera with flashing lights and its own leather case.
Do not leave said iPhone in full view when getting the metro. I discovered this the hard way when my hand met the hand of a pickpocket…in my coat-pocket! Thankfully, he ran away before I could karate chop him and iPhone number 3 is still with me. Thank God.
Don’t expect to love (or understand) Paris straight away. I still can’t find my way around, and my only geographical knowledge of the city is the metro route between Gare du Nord and Strasbourg Saint-Denis (where Jacqueline and all her books live.) I can say now though, that I am slowly falling in love with Paris. Every street is different and there is diversity in every neigbourhood. One time I turned a corner and found myself in Japan (the sushi was great).
I recently met the owners of the new Shakespeare and Company Café, and as I sipped my (6.50 €!!!) fruit juice I found myself eavesdropping on a conversation between two women, one an expat in Paris living off her writing, and the other who had just got a job at American Vogue…living the dream, as My French Life™ would say.
Paris is definitely full of opportunties, especially for writers, and I can’t wait to get to know this city more. Stay tuned for the next post in ‘How not to be a journalist in Paris’.
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” -Ernest Hemingway
Note: This post was written before the November terrorist attacks in Paris. I am going ahead with this series because I believe that it is important to continue visiting Paris, not only as an act of defiance and solidarity, but because it is a city of culture and history that should continue to be celebrated.
- Wikipedia Commons