My third week in Madrid has been pretty amazing. I fall more in love with the city everyday. Our program director of EUSA, the company that finds our internships and housing, is Almendra. She is awesome and very knowledgable about cultural differences and competencies. I love when she shares new information with us during our orientations and activities we do with EUSA. The other day, we had a cultural differences workshop where we shared our experiences adjusting to a the new culture of Spain. Almendra shared a quote with us during the workshop:
“Do one thing everyday that scares you.”-Eleanor Roosevelt
She was telling us this as a way to encourage us to get out of our comfort zones. That really spoke to me because I have been having trouble doing that. My main area I’ve been struggling with leaving my comfort zone is practicing my Spanish. I’m not sure why, but I just get discouraged easily is someone doesn’t understand me or I don’t understand them and they revert back to English. It doesn’t help that my host family and everyone at my job all speak English perfectly, so it’s really just a comfort thing.
So after Almendra, our program director, shared this quote with us, I decided to try doing something that scared me. I went out to eat and I sat at the bar. I decided to talk to the bartender. He said something in Spanish and I couldn’t comprehend. He quickly caught on that I spoke English and began speaking in English. But this time I started speaking in Spanish and told him I was trying to get better. I spoke to him for the rest of the night and he said that I spoke beautifully and to keep practicing. His name was Joaquin and I went back the next day and talked to him some more. It was a good way to practice my Spanish. Now, I feel a little more motivated to speak more Spanish at work and to just keep speaking it, even if they speak to me in English.
Because they all speak English there, I haven’t experienced much ambiguity with my tasks. The most ambiguity is probably deadlines. I have never received a single deadline from my supervisor. I usually upload edited footage everyday to a shared google drive for Instagram use, but it took me a few days to realize she doesn’t check it unless I tell her I put it on there. So, she thought it took me that long to finish even though I had finished each one the day I started. She never has an issue with it, but it’s just a lack of communication that I need to be aware of and remember to tell her as soon as I upload anything. I never really get checked up on, so I have to work efficiently on my own.
There is also lack of ambiguity because, I know the most about photo/video editing in my office currently. My co-worker who is in charge of the tasks I’m currently handling doesn’t have as much experience I do, so I’m actually teaching her a lot. She even asked me if we could just plan out a day to teach her the Adobe software I use. I’m nowhere near an expert, but you learn the best when you teach others, so it’s really useful for me to be able to share my knowledge while honing it in myself.
I think there is more ambiguity when I visit the different sites that my company has around Spain. The other managers don’t know me as well, and each manager is slightly different when interacting with me. Some of them are very outgoing and make sure to show me around and give me specific information about who can and can’t be filmed. Then, other managers may just leave me to my own devices and I will have to be sure to ask them where everything is and who has permission. It has been interesting to navigate, but as I get to know them more they become easier to approach.
I believe that if I start trying to speak more Spanish, there is a chance that there will be more ambiguity, and I think that it will be very important to ask for clarity if my supervisor gives me directions in Spanish. One of my main goals on this trip is to improve my Spanish, so at some point I just need to start practicing.