A Summer Romance
About the Author: Meghan Cioci interned at the U.S. Consulate General of Strasbourg from June to August 2013
Strasbourg and I didn’t waste any time getting to know one another. Within two hours of arriving, my new roommates took me out for some flammkuchen à volonté with a crew of young Strasbourgeois students who promptly began my initiation to the city, its culture and its idiomatic expressions. Within a day, my feet were already aching from my adventures wandering around la Petite France, up the famous Cathedral and through the Orangerie Park. I’m fairly surprised I didn’t run into any walls my first weekend in Strasbourg; I quite literally had la tête en l’air while taking in the beauty of the gothic cathedrals, les maisons à colombages, the storks and the buildings of the European institutions, where I would come to spend much of my ten weeks. I knew I was in for a great summer. And this was all before starting my internship…
That Monday, I presented myself at the gates of the Consulate General, not having the slightest idea what to expect. My first week at the Consulate General was a blur. One of our smallest diplomatic missions—I came to learn—Consulate General Strasbourg only has six employees. Needless to say, I got to know the entire staff very quickly and was extremely grateful for their warm, Alsatian welcome as well as their guidance during my first few days.
I grew accustomed to the routine (or lack thereof) of working at the Consulate General. Attending weekly meetings at the Council of Europe as well as its week-long Parliamentary Assembly gave me a keen insight to the human rights issues and questions in the 47 member States of the organization. Other days I observed notarials and reports of birth abroad, drafted Department of State cables, attended Russia’s and Sweden’s National Day celebrations hosted by their respective ambassadors, and even helped plan a Fourth of July party. My work days may have been nine to five, but they were far from routine.
I was afforded the privilege of working on fascinating projects. A personal favorite was interviewing the Head of the Registry at the European Court of Human Rights about a new law passed in Romania concerning Communist Era restitution, and writing a report thereof to our Embassy in Bucharest. In addition, I certainly will never forget attending the official welcome ceremony for Croatia’s accession to the European Union at the European Parliament with the Consul General and my fellow intern.
Additionally, outside of my internship, I was able to take the time to walk to neighboring Germany, visit the Château of Haut-Koenigsbourg, explore the traditional Alsatian architecture of the charming village of Riquewihr, pick up some Alsatian expressions from my French colleague (like “fatch!”), and even fit in a trip to Paris.
So, thanks are in order to the Consulate General and the city of Strasbourg for a whirlwind summer fling. I am extremely grateful for the guidance and insight the Consul General and his team of locally hired staff gave me during my sojourn in Alsace. I’m even thinking about taking the Foreign Service Exam in February….who knows, Strasbourg, I may be back in twenty years as a Foreign Service Officer so that we can rekindle our summer love. In the meantime, I’ve already booked my train tickets back for December. (I can’t miss out on the world-renowned Christmas market, now can I?)
This may be the last day of my internship, but these past ten weeks in Strasbourg and at the U.S. Consulate General have been full novelty: learning about this city, its people, its charm, its architecture and its Consulate General of the United States, and falling in love with this very unique region of France.
If you are interested in an exciting and challenging State Department internship opportunity, check out these links: