French Toast or Friganele? A French intern in Bucharest

A short story about how courage can change everything.

Imagine you live in Chaumont. You’re a 20something aspiring Graphic Designer and you’re in your last year of Masters. The thing is that you have one last assignment before finishing school and turning into a fully grown adult: complete a 3 month internship in your area of expertise. But it’s Summer and you want an adventure. You want to explore a new city! Maybe some place weird, affordable and with a totally different culture from yours? 

You’ve already spent 2 years in Australia, so you’ve seen what weird looks like. Then what should your next destination be? You immediately decide to leave croissants, french toast, creme brulee, berets, fromages, the Eiffel Tower, good wine and instead come to… Romania!?!?

Would you do it? Eleonore did. Because she’s courageous. And this is her story.

‘’I sent an email. With all my heart. The day after, I got an answer’’

Ok, the destination is set. But how do you find a workplace? Apparently, in our day and age, everything is just a click away. You sit down at your computer, google ‘’Graphic Design agencies’’ and boom! There they are. All those Romanian Graphic Design studios to pick from, but you decide to go with your gut and choose Cromatic Studios. 

‘’I’m just one email away from the Summer experience of a lifetime’’ you say to yourself while you wait for an answer. But you know that most agencies or any other job offers for that matter, take a bunch of weeks to get back to you, so you don’t get your hopes up. UNTIL…

…someone responds the day after, you talk on the phone, they recite a poem in their native language, offer to help you find a place to stay and to even pick you up from the airport as you arrive. You think to yourself that that kind of niceness is suspicious, stuff your mom warns you about, but you’re courageous and young and it sounds like the type of adventure you were looking for. So what the hell? You do it! 

‘’It was about trust. They trusted me to work with clients, to do things my way’’

When you’re young every journey you embark on requires an amount of courage. Landing in a new country, totally different than yours, decided to meet a group of new people and trusting both them and yourself that this experience was worthwhile takes a lion’s amount of courage.

Your first day at this new colorful new office has put a terrible amount of stress on you. Even though they were nice enough to meet you over drinks, you’ve never seen them in a workplace environment. You have no idea what types of projects await and the challenges you’re going to face. On this particular first day you had to switch apartments and you ran a little late. Meaning you actually ran like your life depended on it, even breaking a few traffic rules here and there and by the time you arrived you were sweating in the elevator. On the way here, in that horrible rush, you’ve even prepared a couple of excuses. You look at the watch: 10:05. As you stepped into the office, no one was there, but one of your new colleagues that reassures you that it’s fine, Cromatic are not exactly that types that rush. You understand then and there that this is not your typical internship. People won’t be on your back about small things like being 5 minutes late. Their happiness and easy-go-lucky attitudes will make you fall in love with them. 

And them with you. ‘’Frequently warm person’’, ‘’Talented and observant’’, ‘’Easy-going’’, ‘’Amazing mindset’’, ‘’An extraordinary person’’, ‘’The Je ne sais quoi girl’’, ‘’Superextracalifragistic human’’, ‘’Calm and centered’’, they’d say after you leave. They’ll even miss your presence at the office. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. 

‘’Could I be happy working in a Graphic Design studio? Yes, I definitely will’’

When you’re an aspiring Graphic Designer, with a love for minimal, colorful and French design you need to know if you’re going to fit in working in an open space environment with other creatives such as yourself. It’s like you’re on a mystical quest to find yourself and prove your skill set to others. 

Your first project turns out to be a brand identity for a real-estate developer, AGVA, which you’re both excited and stressed at the same time. You haven’t exactly done a lot of branding projects, so naturally you put a lot of pressure on yourself, as all artists, of all types do. 

‘’I was terrified to show them my work! But it turned out well and I gained a lot of confidence from that’’. After that, you start working on brand canvas, providing one of the 3 directions the studio actually proposed for brands. You end up designing the front window for a hardware store! Exciting! You’ve never done this before. As days passed you see an obvious evolution, in both state of mind and your work. At school, you’ve always doubted yourself, you were never satisfied with your work. You started thinking that Graphic Design was more upsetting than pleasurable. But your internship proved otherwise.  Your final project gets you all nostalgic, but you wanted to reward the Cromatic Studios team somehow. So you designed them a mural, and painted it in a weekend. Your art forever impregnated in their wall, as a token of your appreciation. 

‘’The mural is the studio itself, its spirit. They get along so well’’When you’re warm-hearted and involved in your work, you have this strong feeling of leaving something behind, of creating history, of doing remarkable things. 

Your piece de resistance at Cromatic Studios  is the mural. You wanted it to be a fair-well gift, personal. So you decide to paint the staff because you thought to yourself ‘’They get along so well and they all have strong personalities. So I can easily picture them as cartoon characters. The design will reflect how I see them: quirky and jolly’’.

Insert a few inside jokes, adding your own personal style and recreating the work atmosphere was no easy job. But you start off by drawing each person from the office, scanning your drawing and then sticking them together in a program on your computer. Probably InDesign. Then you project the whole thing on the wall and paint it manually. A 2 day job, but it was worth. 

This whole experience was worth it. 

’I’ll tell my friends about my stories. They’ll probably get jealous because I’ll brag a little’’, and with that thought you put your tools of mass creation down and leave, hoping you’ll return to visit this group of people that made you happy just because they were happy. Just by looking at them. 

That’s what Eleonore did. And we all want to be like her, at that age. To take risks, to go on wild adventures, to get our hopes up, to live a little. Hell, we all want to be like her at any age! 

This is not only her adventure, but it should be a lesson for everyone that is willing to be courageous and take advantage of every opportunity they’re given. 

Courage does change everything! Just ask Eleonore!

Thank you Eleonore! We miss you so much! 

We miss your humor, your dedication, your warm presence, your French mystery and your talent. 

P.S: We swear that French toast is totally different from friganele! And we promise to pass on your advice for all Romanians: smile more. We sure are smiling just thinking of you! 

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