Wow I can’t believe I am already talking about week 3. It feels like I have only be here for maybe a week but time really does fly by. In this last week I have been working on researching ad writing another video script about CONSUL which is an open source online public participation software being used in Madrid and around the world. I also met up with all of the other students on this program in order to really discuss the cultural differences we have experienced in Spain both in and out of the work space. We discussed everything from the size of the paper to style of speaking to topics of conversations. It was actually really great to share and maybe vent a few frustrations while also learning about how to best approach and adapt to these differences. I also had the chance to travel to Segovia this weekend which was incredible. Segovia is a smaller city about an hour and half north of Spain and it boasts one of the castles that inspired Walt Disney in the creation of the Disney castle as well as intact roman aqueducts. I got to visit this castle and had a wonderful time wandering around with other girls from the program. 21,115 steps worth of wondering around to be exact. And the next day I did absolutely nothing at the insistence of my host mother who believes Sundays are for exactly that.
Something I have been wanting to talk about in these blogs but haven’t gotten a chance to yet is my host family. While in Spain I am staying with a host family and they have been absolutely incredible in helping me transition to a very different Spanish lifestyle. I do not know if I would be as comfortable in my life here as I am without them. I think I have really been able to embrace life in Spain because they help me feel comfortable and welcome. My host family has 3 kids, one does not live with them but the other two do live here and are around my age and a pug named Mortimer who goes by Morty. Both of their kids were a little stressed when I first arrived because they were finishing up their semesters still with exams however now they are both finished just around the house. I recently had a great time helping their daughter pick out a dress for her graduation as she tried on dresses for my host mom and me. It was the first time I have ever had two people saying different things to me in Spanish at the same time and it was a little overwhelming but fun. The three of us have had a lot of conversations about fashion since which is something I really love to talk about. As well I think the program took my interests into account when placing me with a family as well because both of my house parents work in government and their daughter, who is my age, just graduated university with a degree in International Relations and Business. This has been really interesting because I get to have conversations with them about political science and the current Spanish government. What is just a little unfair is that my host parents and I do not agree ideologically but I am arguing in a second language which puts me at a disadvantage when it comes to making an argument. However I really enjoy listening to my host family talking to each other; I think of it as one of the best Spanish lessons in the world.
I am actually in a unique situation where the conversations I have at home and the work I am doing are related in that both of my host parents work for one of the Spanish political parties and I am directly researching aspects of the Spanish government. But my host parents give me perspective at work and vice versa. At work I have been researching the uses of direct public participation in government through online platforms, citizen assemblies, and/other mechanisms following the theory of CrowdLaw. This work is interesting because it is analyzing alternative forms of governments and governmental styles that could be utilized all across the world. However I think it has been important for me to remain skeptical and a political scientist in this work and my family helps me stay in check. Because this type of direct democracy has a lot criticisms and a lot of very valid criticisms. This is a tricky balance for me especially when writing these educational video script summaries because I have to walk the very thin line of remaining honest about the real problems of direct democracy while also explaining current examples and supporting the continued research on the topic. This is something I have struggled with a lot and I think I have leaned more into the overly positive outlook in my writing as opposed to being honest. This is something I think I should discuss with my supervisor further and discuss with him how I can improve on this. One of the other things have struggled with at work is my lack of deadlines. In general my boss has assigned me about a days worth of work everyday meaning he gives me an assignment at the beginning of the day and I usually finish at the end. However recently I have been assigned more complex tasks that take a little longer than or a little shorter than a day. For these tasks it is challenging for me because either I feel like I have not spent enough time or I feel like I took to long. One of things I currently do now that I understand the types of tasks I am assigned is give myself a deadline to meet in order to get the work done and/or consciously be aware of the quality of the work I am doing as I do it. This means I am constantly asking myself did you understand what you just read, did you take good enough notes to continue, or have written enough based on the time spent. This type of constant self evaluation really helps me stay on track and with my soft deadlines.