“Haz lo que quieras”

My time in Madrid continues to be full of exploring and admiring the country and culture here. The highlight of my third week here was our trip to Segovia, a small town about 1.5 hours away from the city.  We left early in the morning and spent our day exploring the city. We started with breakfast in the Plaza Mayor at a restaurant that had American-styled breakfast which was refreshing, as most breakfasts here consist of just a coffee and pastry or tostada with tomato sauce.

We first visited the Catedral de Segovia, which, to be honest, I thought was quite strange.  The cathedral is separated by smaller rooms and two bigger caged rooms in the middle.  I have never been in a cathedral with that floor plan in my life, and I honestly found it quite creepy.  I didn’t like that the rooms were caged off, and it was also super dark and cold making for an unpleasant atmosphere in my opinion.  However, once you walked through that part of the cathedral, it opened up into a courtyard that allowed the sun to flood into the Cathedral and made it much less creepy and more beautiful.

The rest of our time in Segovia was spent walking around, eating, enjoying the street music, and the rest of the beautiful views.  One of the most special views was the aqueduct. The aqueducts are enormous stone structures that were originally built in around 100 A.D. to transport water into the city.  We had dinner right at the foot of the aqueducts and it was crazy to sit and observe these incredible structures and to discuss their history and our questions about how they were designed and built.

We were back in Madrid on Sunday.  In the morning Cierra and I went to El Rastro,a huge outdoor market full of independent vendors that is open every Sunday.  The market had everything you could imagine: jewelry, clothes, art, etc.  It was full of people and street music and was an overwhelming, but awesome place to be. We then grabbed lunch and headed to El Retiro,the Central Park of Madrid, and spent the afternoon with our other friends on the program.  Living in my own homestay, I have found that I have a lot more time alone than I have during my past experiences abroad.  Because I live by myself, it takes more effort to meet up with people and have people to do stuff with. I have been exploring a lot on my own, which is very peaceful but also not all that I want to do.  Throughout my time here, I have learned how to live completely separately from my friends and how to make the time and effort to see them.  I think that this has been one of the most important lessons so far for me and one that has become easier along the way.

Another big lesson that I have learned during my time here is how to handle ambiguity. Throughout the first two weeks of my internship, I have truly come to understand what Hillary meant when she warned us that we would experience less clarity in our assignments than we are used to.  On my first day here, I received a list of all of my tasks for the entire internship. I have four major assignments that include reports accompanied with PowerPoint and excel presentations – all in Spanish.  The challenge is, I have absolutely no guidance on deadlines, length, or anything else that would be typical in my classes at Pitt.  This lack of instruction has been my biggest learning curve so far. It is difficult to understand the expectations when they are not clearly defined. Even when I have asked for clarification, my supervisor has reinforced the idea that it is all up to me. My biggest concern is that I do not want to be taking too much time to complete my assignments; however, I also want to be sure that I am also not rushing through my work and that it is still as thorough as possible.  Ambiguity is the most stressful part of my internship.  To handle the stress of not knowing exactly what is expected, I have set well thought out deadlines for myself and make sure that I do the most amount of work that I can each day.  This self-reliance when it comes to my work is very difficult; however, it has already taught me a lot throughout my time with Manos Unidas.  I am hopeful that I continue to be successful in learning how to navigate ambiguity, and that I continue to learn new ways that will help me to best handle a lack of clear direction. I have already completed the first part of my assignments, and I am excited yet anxious to turn them into my supervisor and receive her feedback.  Hopefully, it is more descriptive than her instructions which may help me with my following assignments.  Also, hopefully I am still feeling as positive about descriptive feedback as I do right now so I know that my skills for ambiguity are working!