Our new English editor arrives - welcome (back) Lara!

Article published on May 15, 2017
Article published on May 15, 2017

You can take the girl out of cafébabel, it seems, but you can't take cafébabel out of the girl. Lara Lise Bullens, who's half-Swiss and half-Dutch, did a two-month internship at our Paris office at the end of 2016. And now she's back to spend the next 10 months as our full-time English editor!

cafébabel: Did you enjoy your two-month stint in the winter with us?

Lara: It was cold! [laughs] But it was great! I mean, if it wasn't a good experience I wouldn't have come back.

cafébabel: What made you want to come back?

Lara: I wanted to continue a chapter that I didn’t feel was finished. I felt I wasn’t done here yet.

cafébabel: What have you been doing in the interim?

Lara: I went home to both respective countries [Switzerland and the Netherlands] for New Year's and Christmas to see my family, and when I came back I was sending out job applications left and right, going to interviews. I helped some friends working for the project Are We Europe, editing and finding contributors and writing for them, and I was also working in a restaurant. Just a very easy-going, straightforward life for a few months.

cafébabel: If people ask you how you're enjoying Paris now, is the answer still "It's great, it smells of pee!"?

Lara: Definitely! It's great even though it smells of pee, and I have to add: it's great even though when you're biking behind a bus, you have to cleanse every time you get off your bike because of the pollution.

cafébabel: The last time we spoke you were reading a book called When Nietzsche Wept. What are you reading now?

Lara: I'm reading The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. I told myself I wanted to start reading more books by women. I found myself, just out of habit, picking up a load of classics by white men, and I wanted to start reading books by different people in society and see the world through their eyes. It's a fascinating book, it's absolutely terrifying - it gave me nightmares! - but it's great so far.

cafébabel: And thank God that it's not at all topical right now.

Lara: It's a fitting time to read a dystopian novel like this, especially a feminist one right now.

cafébabel: There's a lot of evidence to suggest we're living in a dystopia right now: Brexit and Donald Trump, and Marine Le Pen getting twice the number of votes her father got 15 years ago. What do you do to stay hopeful?

Lara: I tell myself that a lot of people have this habit of being reactionary. It's an unhealthy habit, but it can be a good thing, because it means that there's going to be a lot of backlash against the rise of these populist, right-wing nationalist movements. There's a lot more initiatives now that are surfacing, and that gives me a lot of hope. You go to the streets in Paris whenever anything happens and there are people raising their voices, and that's kind of comforting.

cafébabel: What do you want to get out of the next 10 months here?

Lara: What's really great is that there's been a lot of shifts in the company and in the magazine. We have a new boss now, which changes the dynamics, changes for the website are on the horizon, and there's a new editorial line which is all about long-form, high-quality journalism, and I want to be a part of it.

I'm really excited to take all of these ideas I've had for months and really get them going, and have a job that gives me the time to do that. I'm going to Lyon at the end of May to attend the European Lab. I just asked on my first day if I could do it, and they immediately said yes. There's so much space to be creative here that you don't get from other magazines.