Thanks to the Principal´s Go Abroad Fund I was able to travel to Paris and meet professors related to my research in History at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS). This was very helpful for my ongoing PhD studies.
My trip took me to the French capital, Paris. As my historical research focuses on the history of the Front Populaire, it was imperative that I visit Paris at some point during my research . The city is also the base of important researchers like Christophe Prochasson that have both been sources of inspiration to me and have shaped my development as an historian. The opportunity to travel to Paris was the perfect opportunity as a PhD student –not only to meet them, but also to share and discuss the ideas that I have been developing all these years. Third, and finally, for the last 5 years I have been studying French. Travelling to Paris was a terrific opportunity to use the language that I have acquired over the previous years in a real-life situation. All these reasons motivated me to apply for the funding that allowed me to travel to Paris in June 2018.
Before I moved, I was apprehensive and didn’t know what to expect. It wasn´t the first time that I embarked on a lengthy trip abroad. Nonetheless, I couldn’t shake the fear of being able to adapt, if I’d be comprehensible speaking the language, or fit into the place. Also, as part of my research, I was afraid that the people that I met in EHESS might not like my research, or even be disdainful towards it. None of this came to pass, and the faltering confidence that invariably accompanies the unknown was cast aside. As a postgraduate student who has been studying for many years , it was a pleasure to share my work with prominent figures like Prochasson and get valuable feedback. The experience not only boosted my confidence in my own work, but also it was a pleasure to see how beneficial it was to travel and meet other academics in a different environment. As an additional bonus, Paris was buzzing at this time with the beginning of the summer and the World Cup. At the Bibliotèque nationale de France (BNF) I met wonderful people – researchers like myself who shared their own motivations and fears with me. The exercise only helped me hone my French skills all the more and to feel comfortable and confident speaking the language.
In sum, I would highly recommend this experience, which was valuable both personally and academically. To live in another country, to speak a foreign language and meet others with whom to share your own ideas, research and experiences is a great privilege.