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VSU French Major interns in the French Parliament

Étudiante en français de VSU stagiaire à l’Assemblée nationale à Paris.
Translation: VSU French major – intern at the French Parliament in Paris.

Mathilde Anik Vedel, a senior French major, transferred to VSU in spring 2021 as an online student.

Anik Vedel is not an international student at VSU but is an American and French citizen. She was born in the South of France and lived there for 12 years and has most recently resided in Los Angeles.

After this internship, she says she plans to stay and live in Paris.

She found VSU through its online program when she was looking to take French classes and was given the opportunity for this internship through her connections with Dr. Ofelia Nikolova, a VSU French professor, and Eva Allouche, the founder of the French American Fund.

“We are happy to partner with VSU, and The French American Fund is working toward providing students like Mathilde with a unique professional experience,” Allouche said. “Interning with the French Parliament is a wonderful opportunity for a young American.”

The process of getting this internship was incredibly rigorous and took almost a year to complete. She was interviewed multiple times through Zoom, wrote essays and sent multiple documents and a resume. Anik Vedel was one of many students who competed and one of the few undergraduate students who was admitted.

Anik Vedel said that her biggest challenge from this internship was the start.

“It is different than the U.S., and I had to adapt to the European government and adjust to a new place,” Anik Vedel said. “It is not like what we are used to.”

One of the biggest changes was the way of transportation.

“Before arriving in Paris, I never took public transportation, and that was actually something that I had to learn because it is just the subway here,” Anik Vedel said.

Anik Vedel was also confronted with disproving common stereotypes.

“I was expecting the people to be ruder,” she said. “It actually wasn’t bad; they were quite nice.”

While interning she was interviewed by people in the French Parliament and given different projects to work on.

“We never know what to expect when we are in the Parliament,” Anik Vedel said,

She worked for the French Government Defence as they created the financial plan for the next 10 years. She also participated in the raising of the retirement age from 62 to 64.

Dr. Nikolova described this vote as, “the biggest deal for the last 20 years because the French are really protective of their social acquisition.”

Increasing the retirement age created a big controversy in France, and people protested. Many workers went on strikes during this time, such as the trash and street cleaners.

“I remember we had a lot of protests in the streets,” Anik Vedel said. “The police had to secure the whole building and the streets around it. No one could go in unless you had a badge to go into the Parliament.”

These protests were not violent but instead civil. However, they did disrupt the usual traffic for transportation.

“It was hard sometimes during the protests because of the lines; sometimes the subway was closed,” she said.

Anik Vedel continued to push through the hectic environment. She said the social aspect and meeting new people was her overall favorite part of the internship.

Networking is important during any kind of event.

“I got to meet very important people in the government,” Anik Vedel said. “We had lunch with them and talked about all types of subjects during the lunch meetings.”

She also interned at the International Law Firm. She was with three other interns who were in their last year of law school. She did not specialize in this field, so she received help from those around her. She had to translate French law into English from long documents. According to Anik Vedel, it is incredibly difficult because the Parliament has its own vocabulary.

Along with these responsibilities, she was also juggling her online course. She had to write reflection papers every week discussing her time in the Parliament, and she also had to write a final paper.

Not only this, she presented a paper regarding her internship in Paris at the VSU Undergraduate Research Symposium on April 12.

Anik Vedel’s internship ended on April 19, but she plans to continue her work in Paris.

“I want to do my master’s in international relations online so I can stay in Paris. Then maybe work for the French Parliament or the American Embassy in Paris,” Anik Vedel said.

Written by Jenna Arnold, Staff Reporter. Photo courtesy of Dr. Ofelia Nikolova.

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