Sunday, June 14, 2009

Business and Bisous

In keeping with the recent string of posts about internships, I’ll take some time to blog a bit about my own work experience in Brussels.

I’m interning at Liberty TV a French- and Dutch-language television station that broadcasts travel shows. Of the five organizations at which I had interviewed, this one had been my top choice, because I wanted to learn more about television production and because I wanted to be able to practice my French in a professional setting. I was ecstatic when I found out I had the job, but, I have to admit, once I got to the office on the first day and became submerged not only in a foreign work environment, but also in a foreign language, I began to wonder if I had gotten in over my head.

After the first couple of days however, I not only started to get used to this new setting, but I also started to have a lot of fun! My job entails assisting the television production team, a small group that consists of two anchors, a producer, and two video editors. My tasks generally include finding and writing up short, travel-related news reports for the anchors’ morning news segment, researching travel information about various countries around the world for a set of mini Web guides the team is producing, and helping to come up with a new design and content for the organization’s Web site. I’ve also written interview questions for guests, edited show segments using Final Cut Pro, assisted with filming by working the teleprompter, and participated in a screening during which the team watched and rated potential documentaries for the channel.

Over the past month, I’ve learned a great deal about television production. I’ve also had the opportunity to learn about a Belgian workplace. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of an American workplace. One thing that is different though, at least in my experience, is lunchtime. Generally the whole team will get together to eat and chat. Furthermore, unlike in the places where I have worked or interned at in the States, people take their whole allotted hour for their meal, instead of rushing back to their desks once they’re done with their food. Another workplace custom that is new to me is the way in which people greet one another. In Brussels people kiss each other once on each cheek when they say hello, even in a professional environment. These kisses are called 'bisous'. I’m not used greeting friends in this manner, much less co-workers, and I haven’t quite adjusted to this one yet, but I’m getting there!

So, all in all, my internship with Liberty TV has been wonderful. At times it has been frustrating to be working in a foreign languge, but I've learned a great deal from these challenges. Certainly, I'll never forget this experience, and I know the skills I have gained here will help me for years to come.

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