Since arriving in Spain I feel like I have been in a whirlwind. I have had five days to explore Madrid and start to get a feel for it which has included using the metro, taking a cab, and walking over 15,000 steps every day. Yeah, my feet hurt. So far my absolute favorite part of Madrid is El Parque de Retiro. It is a massive park in the city similar to Central Park in NYC. However every inch of the park is landscaped with trees which creates a lot of cool shade in a hot city. As well there is a large pond in the middle of the park were visitors can explore in small boats as seen in the photos. There are also many other attraction in the park like the glass house, the rose garden, and many small spaces dedicated to statues. Overall the park is a lovely place for the residents of Madrid to go relax as well as for tourists to explore.
I am also starting to figure out the Metro and the layout of the city. However yesterday I did walk up the street parallel to mine for blocks thinking I was walking perpendicular before realizing and having to walk back. But I think getting lost is part of the fun of exploring a new city because you find places you may have never found on purpose. I actually found a designer wedding dress shop with the most beautiful dresses. Of course I am not getting married any time soon but the dresses were so beautiful and I looked up the shop later.
Also I have been drinking as much cafe con leche as I can get my hands on.
However the most interesting thing and maybe the most important thing that has happen in Spain since I arrived was the election yesterday. The previous government of the City Council was voted out of power and replaced. This is interesting because GOVLAB Madird, which is my internship placement, was working in tandem with this government and its fate is now up in the air. Luckily for me they have a contract until September, but I am interested to see what is going to happen.
Now though, I am looking forward towards this internship and what it will require of me. I am working for GOVLAB Madrid which is a research institute studying ways in which technology can help to increase public participation in public problem solving and law making. Overall though is a research institute which means I will need to use many skills I have developed at Pitt. One of the most important of these skills will most likely be data analysis meaning the interpretation of data using quantitative and computer skills. As well with this placement I think creativity will be important because innovation is the most important aspect of their research meaning they need creative ideas to jump start projects.
After going to my interview today I have learned more about the skills for this internship. One of the major things GOVLAB is currently doing is presenting reports on the research they have already done around the world and one of my main tasks will be working on the extraction of important information and it presentation. My first project will be working on a script for a video that will be made for GOVLAB soon as a presentation tool. So I will need to be able to read a lot of information in a short time and decide what should be presented.
As well translation skills will also be important as these reports are written in both English and Spanish. It will important for me to translate between English and Spanish as well as translating reports between governmental institutions specifically the US Congress and the City Council of Madrid because GOVLAB will be presenting to these very different institutions. Because the US Congress is a national government and the Madrid City is a local government the presentations for these two need to be different and this is something I will be working on.
There are also skills specific to working in Spain I will need to use. One of which is time management, which I will be discussing more next week. In Spain things are definitely more relaxed however the work still needs to be done. For me this means when I am working and getting things done so I can be more relaxed at other times. But figuring out the pace of the day will be very important. Also people are much more direct in Spain and I tend to be very polite. So am going to have to work on my directness as opposed to being overly polite. And of course I am in Spain so Spanish skills will be very important especially with the translations, but also with communicating with my co-workers.
Overall I am looking forward to getting into a schedule and getting into my internship. I am also starting to make plans for my travel on the weekends and I am very excited to explore Spain.