La Primera Semana: Small Goals

Hi! My name is Isabella Tessitore and I am a rising senior studying marketing. This summer I am interning at SCOPEN, a consulting and market research firm in Madrid, Spain. I’m so excited to be writing this blog about my professional and personal experiences in Spain!

It’s official! I survived my first week in Spain and will complete the first week of my internship tomorrow. This week has been such a whirlwind of new foods, words, and places. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gotten lost exploring through the city. Our tour guide told us to go get lost and explore, but I usually end up getting lost accidentally and not purposefully. Luckily, Google Maps has saved me from truly losing my way. It also helps that metro stops and bus stops are very well-labelled here. Madrid’s public transportation is extremely well organized and interconnected. It’s very easy to transfer Metros and get to the various neighborhoods.

IIP Madrid

Before I left the U.S, I didn’t think that I would be very overwhelmed the first week. We were prepared with orientations the first three days and I thought that I could conquer the world. How different could Spain really be from the U.S? Quickly, I found out that there are some differences that I needed to adapt to in this new culture.

First, the daily schedule is completely different! In Spain there is a light breakfast before leaving the house in the morning, a mid-morning break for some café and pastry, a larger lunch at 2-3PM, and finally a lighter dinner at 9-10:30PM. As each day passes, this schedule feels more normal to me, but my stomach still growls at work around 12:30PM. Since coffee and carbs are two of my favorite things, I cannot complain about the second breakfast concept. We also learned that this strange schedule is not due to the “relaxed” lifestyle of Spaniards, but actually was a lasting effect of Franco’s dictatorship.

Secondly, I had to conquer the house doors. Yes, you read that right. I could not unlock my house doors for the first two days of my home stay. I am not the most mechanically inclined individual, but I can usually open a door! The difference with the doors in my home stay are that the door handles are in the middle of the door. This placement results in some interesting wiggling in of the key and door handle in order to successfully open the door. After some explanation, I learned how to properly open and lock these doors. I would have never predicted that something so simple could cause me so much trouble!


By solving my small little issues I had during my first week, I learned something important about being abroad or being in a new situation. Conquer the small stuff, so that you can begin to conquer your big, lofty goals. I had to learn how to unlock my home stay doors in order to explore the city and go to my internship! Once that small goal was conquered, I began to accomplish my goal of working and living in Madrid. For the first week in my internship, I took this lesson with me. I had to understand Excel formulas in Spanish before I could run some calculations for SCOPEN’s research studies. Often I get caught up in the immediate problem and lose sight of the big picture, but I will start laughing about my small missteps. Each misstep is becoming an opportunity for learning about my industry, Spain, or myself!

This weekend, I will travel to Salamanca for the day on Saturday and enjoy my long weekend! This Monday is the Feast Day of San Isidro (Spain’s Patron Saint) and a holiday. ¡Hasta luego!