Of all the places I had thought of going to for my summer fellowship, I never would have thought of being based in Brest, France–especially when I had zero skills in speaking or even understanding French! I admit… I had never even heard of the city before this internship was recommended to me so it has never been on my list of top destinations to work. As someone who grew up in the tropics and prefers the tropical climate, I had imagined being somewhere closer to the equator. Despite this, however, Brest definitely did not disappoint!
Since the 1600s, Brest has had a long history as a military harbor with a record of victories against English squadrons. It was the disembarking port of American during the First World War and became a U-boat submarine base under German occupation during the Second World War. Unfortunately, during that time, the city was almost completely destroyed by the Allies’ bombing raids during the Battle for Brest in 1944 and was completely rebuilt right after the war. To this day, the city remains an important port city in France while acting as a second base for the French navy.
Despite not being in the comfort the tropics, I was still able to enjoy the company of the ocean. On my weekends off of work, I would often find myself taking a leisurely by the beach and exploring what the city has to offer. My favorite part of the city–other than the ocean itself, of course–is the aquarium.
I spend most of my time holed up in the office, often with a cup of tea in hand. You would find me typing the day away, collecting the data needed for the assessment of Kenya and Tanzania’s blue economy. While it may sound tedious, I have definitely learned a lot from all the research I’ve done. I even learn a lot more beyond my research from my fellow colleagues’ research work in the institute.
The best part? I’m rewarded with this view on lunch breaks…
…and on my commute to and from work!