Dancing into foreign territory

Dancers perform during Arcdance's end of the year show at the "Salle des Fetes" in Rousset, France, on Saturday, June 24, in this photo taken by public relations intern Jiselle Henderkott.

By Jiselle Henderkott

Year in School: Senior

Major: Public Relations

Internship: Public Relations Intern, Compagnie Norma (Arcdanse)

It was a big risk to do my internship in a foreign country. I was lucky to have experience living in France last year when I studied French at the university.

However, working abroad was going to be a totally different environment. I had no idea what to expect. I was trying to keep an open mind, but the night before I started my first day I could hardly sleep.

After experiencing a whirlwind flight to France that left me feeling extremely jet-lagged, meeting up with all the friends I hadn’t seen in over a year and drinking one coffee too late in the afternoon, I simply couldn’t sleep. 

After less than four hours of sleep, I got ready, hopped on the bus to the village about 30 minutes away from Aix and prayed that I would get off at the right bus stop.

I realized a little too late that I had missed my stop. I bolted out of my seat quickly saying in French that I needed to get off the bus. Luckily, the bus was stopped in traffic. 

The driver of the bus looked so confused, but you can be sure that I never missed that stop again. 

I was shortly greeted by one of my bosses with an embrace and the traditional "la bise" (the French cheek kiss). 

I knew right away that I was going to love my job and the people I was working with. I spent my first day talking about my tasks with my coworkers around breakfast at their house, then lunch at a local restaurant followed by tea at another one of their houses.

You could say I ate as much that first day as I talked about work. But I loved it. I missed the French culture and pace of the workday. I missed the way they preferred quality work over rushed work, and I was so excited to get to do what I loved in the country I love. 

Some days my head would hurt. Not from the stress per se, but speaking in a foreign language tends to do that to you.

Beside the occasional headache, I was getting to be creative and explore how I could best serve the dance company and the dance school I was working for. 

I threw myself into my work. I started working on press contact spreadsheets and documents, then I started to manage and create content for the company’s social media. I learned how to shoot dance videos for social media. (I never considered myself someone who could shoot good video or edit video, but I learned.) I learned how to go to theaters and inquire about the dance company potentially dancing there. The list could go on and on.

I learned so many things in a short amount of time and looking back, I can’t believe I’ve done all that and more because my time here has gone by so quickly.

I guess it’s true that when you are doing what you love, time flies by. And I truly have to thank the people I work with for that. 

They treat everyone like family, and they are so supportive and kind. They are corrective when they need to be, but always sincere.

Besides getting to be creative and free in my work, I am also able to take dance classes at the local professional dance company, Company Grenade.

But going beyond that, I have to be real with you and say that I have felt a lot of fear. When you are going after something that means a lot to you, it’s very natural that a lot of fear gets drudged up with it. Wrapped around our passions are also our fear of failure, of loss, of looking stupid, of making a mistake, of … the list could go on and on. 

I was so worried that I was reaching too far and that somewhere along the line something would go wrong. 

I’m glad that I was wrong. I’m glad that even if I felt the fear, I did it anyway. I’m glad that even when that little voice inside was telling me it would never work out, it somehow magically did. 

I’m glad I didn’t get in the way of myself and what truly sets my soul on fire. 

If you ask me what I’m going to be doing in about 4 months when I graduate college I’m going to give you an answer that even shocks me. 

(I’m the girl who thought she knew what she wanted to do with her life in the 6th grade.)

… I have no idea.

I have no plans. 

I have a vision. I know how I want to feel. I know what makes me feel alive. I’ll probably be doing that. But no, I don’t have a set career or plan. Maybe that’s crazy, or maybe it’s exactly what I need?

Only time will tell. 

Vote for this entry in Round 2 of the 2017 Greenlee School Summer Intern Blogging Contest.

Voting begins at noon on Aug. 10 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 17. The winner will be announced Aug. 18 by noon.