Internships in Francophone Europe

Internship in Paris

I was fortunate enough to spend fall semester of my senior year in Paris, France through the IFE (Internships in Francophone Europe) program. It was an amazing experience that will not soon be forgotten. The goal of the program was to immerse me in the French language and culture through courses and a part-time internship. In terms of language acquisition, psychology really helped me in the sense of understanding how the mind processes language. I knew that all languages more or less have the same structure; it was mostly vocabulary that had to be learned. However, a lot of the vocabulary sounded a lot like the words I know in English. For example, the French verb "améliorer" is the same as the English word "ameliorate" (to improve). I also had background knowledge about the hierarchy of the structure of language. This helped me to understand which elements I would have to learn as a base and how I could develop from there. A lot of these concepts were learned from my cognitive psychology course.

For my internship, I worked with a non-profit organization that offered services to the transgendered immigrant population in Paris. This was very meaningful work and I feel that I got the most out of the one on one conversations I would have. One example of a psychological perspective that helped me in my internship is the theory of self-disclosure. Psychology teaches us about the powers of self-disclosure in building relationships. If I would share something about my ethnicity or background with the clients that came in, they in turn shared with me and by the end of the conversation we both would have learned so much about a culture apart from our own and other perspectives in general.

I remember taking a seminar on the psychology of narrative and meaning. This course (along with qualitative psychology) helped me learn about the most effective ways to ask questions. Based on what I've learned from these courses, I was able to fully open myself up to learning more about French society and culture, and have people open up to me as well. I was also able to self-reflect on my experiences and begin to integrate these experiences into my transition back to Goucher. In having a psychology background - I feel I was able to employ knowledge in Paris that allowed for me to have one of the richest and most reflective of experiences.

by Muibah Azeez ('15)