My fascination for politics and national heroes inevitably drew me to renowned French figures like Napoleon and Charles de Gaulle who could define the destiny of a country for generations to come. It was thus with utmost excitement that I received the news that I had been selected to represent Great Britain for an exchange through the English Speaking Union at the French National Assembly. 
I was fortunate enough to be assigned to the UMP [Union pour un Mouvement Populaire] group, and more specifically to the office of Mr Alain Marc, Member of Parliament for Aveyron. In addition, a former MP and Minister, Mr Jacques Godfrain, also shared his office. Mr Godfrain is now in charge of a number of charities, and it was a unique opportunity to participate in the affairs of international organisations. Mr Marc’s Parliamentary Assistant, Mrs Paskalita Francheteau, was also extremely patient and supportive throughout my internship there. 
Initially, the work consisted mostly of organising documents for organisations from Aveyron seeking financial assistance for their projects, sifting through constituent mail and drafting letter responses. Although one might not think that replying endless letters would be most pleasant, I found letters from constituents particularly compelling. They were raising issues dear to their heart, and sincerely believed that interacting with their representative was an important duty. 
The most exciting aspect of the work was without a doubt having the chance to attend the sessions at the Palais Bourbon. For someone with a strong interest in debating and a lover of the French language, watching the elite of French politics cross swords on hot topics like the economy, the Euro and the Libyan crisis was a joy to watch. It was then that I understood what true passion for politics meant. French politicians firmly believed in the symbol of their Constitution, and constantly referred to its essence. As a law graduate, it was fascinating to witness the law making process first hand. It was also interesting to see new Ministers during Question Time, since there had been a recent cabinet re-shuffle following the appointment of Christine Lagarde at the IMF. The Palais Bourbon itself is an architectural jewel, and it was mesmerising to work amongst such grand walls. I spent as much time as I could in the Parliament Library, where I found fascinating books on the history of French politics and the actors that shaped such a great nation. Inevitably, I had the chance to meet a number of famous French politicians – Members of Parliament, Senators and Ministers, and was touched by their humility and courteous manner. 
I was at the National Assembly during exciting times. The ‘DSK Affair’ was bringing more twists and turns as the days passed, against a background of primaries for the Socialist Party. At the same time, Nicolas Sarkozy was planning to turn the tide on grim national polls on his chances of being re-elected. As I was posted with the UMP, I was introduced to the dynamics of a re-election campaign, the strategy and discipline involved and the challenges that the UMP would face in the coming months. 
The more glamorous side of the internship was during the receptions, networking events, lunches and parties. It was both entertaining and informative to attend talks and a variety of events, ranging from a party hosted by the Polish Ambassador to a tour of EADS. I also had the chance to visit the office of Charles de Gaulle, which is now a national monument. The highlight of the internship remained seeing the French National Day Celebrations from the Presidential Tribunes, not far from where Nicolas Sarkozy and the members of his Cabinet were seated. I could not imagine a better occasion to live the greatness of the French spirit! 
The experience I had of living and working in Paris could not be put down in words. It taught me more about the French life and politics than any course ever could. I would thus like to thank both the London and Paris branches of the English Speaking Union for the opportunity of working at the French National Assembly.