I feel as though Pitt has done a good job in preparing me for what to expect while working in Spain. Pitt professors and advisors have set the bar very high when it comes to the quality of work and professionalism. The level of work at Pitt that I have brought over to Spain with me has me exceeding my superiors’ expectations. However, I do not believe they are the biggest influence on my readiness for the experience; My family was certainly the biggest contributor getting me prepared to make the trip to Spain. My family is a multicultural family; my father is from Colombia and his mother is from Madrid so I have been around all kinds of people my entire life. Both Pitt and my family have helped balance the work and preparation for the time abroad.
There has not been a single task that my boss has asked me to do that I have failed to understand and carry out successfully. That is a true testament to how well Pitt prepares their students. There have been other students from other schools that have complained about not knowing how to handle certain tasks and I am baffled. Each job I have heard of here has very little stress and the tasks seem relatively easy.
Situations that are hard to prepare us for are the ambiguity in the workplace. I will not place that on Pitt itself because they have told us how to go about asking for clarification but one can not ask for clarification every task assigned to them. What happens when my boss assigns work is the following: she never gives me a deadline. When I finish my work I make her aware of it and she just tells me oh great! Then she takes a look and approves and allows me to hang out until the next project is assigned. The office in general does not have too many worries and they are all very laid back. When I am struggling to understand a task I simply ask another woman in the office and she usually has the answer I am looking for.
Pitt has me covered on the work side of side things but it would be foolish if I did not mention the great job my family has done to prepare me for living away from home and how much I have benefitted from their lessons. The most important sentiment I have brought from the States is far more valuable than anything my academic career has taught me: Respect others no matter their status. I am aware of this phrase at all times, when I am at work, eating at home, going out, and even on the metro. I have made great strides with each person I have met here in Madrid. The reason for that is I want to ensure each person, from the very start, knows that I am a genuine person looking for a friend in a forgien country. Once a person senses that respect they are much more willing to open themselves up and be a great friend. My parents and sister, using their past abroad experiences, told me it is essential to go out of my way and try things you have not tried and talk to as many people as possible. During my time here I have expanded my comfort zone to a point where I am willing to go up to a person alone in a room and begin a conversation. I have learned a little conversation can go a long way; people really love interacting with one another (almost all people). Here in Madrid you have to deal with a language barrier that creates a sense of hesitation when talking to a stranger but through experience and advice, I really go for it now.
Pitt has done a great job of preparing us for the workplace and the intensity of work. However, my family has done most of the work getting me ready for the culture and experience in its totality. In my opinion this experience is more of a life experience rather than a school experience. Furthermore, Pitt has not been there teaching me to be culturally aware since I was young, only my family can say that.