#oSoc15 Week 1 – An unexpected journey

Let me tell you the story, all about how my month got flipped, turned upside down.

© The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air – 1990

My name is Christophe Leroy, I’m a French-speaking front-end developer lost in a sea of Flemish people, and I flippin’ love it.
For the first time in six years, I finally have a summer job which has let me be useful and has let me use everything I have been learning for years. But let’s start at the beginning.

© Borat – 2006

Two or three months ago, a classmate of mine posted about #oSoc15 on Facebook, and it didn’t take me more than a few minutes to apply. I tried to keep calm and not to get my hopes too high up, but the hype was too real for that. I still looked around for another job, so that I wouldn’t find myself jobless and bored during July.

Finally came the confirmation mail from Pieter-Jan, and with it came despair : “You’ve not been accepted, because the project we set you on has been cancelled at last minute. We’ll be happy to have you if someone cancels though” was the gist of it.

© Batman: The Animated Series – 1992

It made me all kinds of sad, and I was already disgusted to have to work in a store or a fast food joint, but I still replied that, should a position become vacant, I’d be glad to take it.

I talked about it to some of my friends and most of my family, and one night, just after having discussed it with a friend of mine, I checked my inbox before going to sleep, and: SURPRISE! I got accepted! The challenge was bigger than I expected, as I had to learn how to develop the front-end part of a Drupal site. I had never used Drupal, but I figured that a challenging job would be better than no job at all, and certainly more rewarding.

© The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – 2012

The two weeks that followed were full of discoveries and joy, as I discovered the marvelous work of Dries Buytaert, the (Belgian!) guy behind Drupal!

And here we are. The first week is almost over as I write those lines (but it will certainly be by the time this is published).

The project I was assigned to is called Multimedia Lab, and is sponsored and requested by the University of Ghent. My team is composed of two Flemish, super cool dudes named Dieter and Umut. I was told I would have to design most of the website, but I have to follow certain guidelines so that our end product respects the aesthetics UGent has set for all his websites.

And I got to say, it went better than I expected. Though it still feels weird having to force people into switching languages once I enter a group, the people are extremely nice and aren’t bothered to speak in English when I’m around (or at least, they don’t show their discontent). I dreaded that we French-speaking people would feel cast aside, but it’s not the case at all. A lot of it is due to the fact that we had the chance to discuss all together on Slack (an IM application for professional teams), and I was really surprised that a lot of people just called me after my nickname on it, which helped getting to know each other.

© Community – 2009

As for the project itself, we had a hackathon all Wednesday long for which our team had decided on very clear and reachable milestones, and those were reached with no problem. It feels extremely good to be complimented on your work, and it definitely confirmed to me that I really (really!) wanted to work as a programmer once I’m done studying. The website itself doesn’t look like much for the moment, but the more time goes on, the more I learn how to get around Drupal, and I am really confident in our ability to finish it on time.

Tune in next week to know how far we’ve come, and, hopefully, for a glimpse of the finished product.

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