I’m onto my 6th week in Madrid! I feel like at this point I should start mentally preparing myself to go home, but I’m not ready! I’ve gotten so accustomed to living here now and I’m even starting to see noticeable improvements in my Spanish speaking abilities! I have taken a lot of action to improve them. I started going to “Intercambios” which is a social club where you go to practice a language you are trying to learn with other people there. Everyone wears the flags of countries they are from/languages they speak. I’ve met a lot of cool people through that and have been able to have entire nights that I just speak in Spanish.
I’ve also started saying “yes” when people ask me if I speak Spanish, and if they ask me which I’d prefer to speak I say Spanish. For example, this weekend, my host mom took me to one of her friend’s house. It was one of the most beautiful houses I’ve ever seen and it was . up in the mountains. It was so intricate and the layout was very confusing to me, but nevertheless, I loved it. Her friends knew English, but they asked me which I’d prefer. When I said Spanish, they cheered for me and encouraged me! They told me my Spanish was very good and I understood almost everything they were saying. I considered it a milestone.
This was one of the first weekends I stayed in Madrid, and it was definitely one of my favorites! I went swimming a lot and the public pool was beautiful. It was also up in the mountains near her friends’ house and it was so much cleaner than any pool I’ve been to in the states. I usually get grossed out at public pools, but I didn’t even think twice about jumping in! I got to spend that whole day at the pool with my host sister, who I love so much! Then, I went out with my co-workers for one of their birthdays! It was such a fun evening and a lot of them told me they wish I was staying longer. It was so sweet!
I feel as though they really appreciate me at my job. I haven’t had to lead many projects completely on my own here. It’s mostly been collaborative between me and one of my co-workers. Before coming here, I hadn’t had a ton of leadership experience. I started a group for making music videos but it was near the end of the year. I’d say I was more of a laid back leader because I was just trying to figure out what I was doing. I relied a lot on my mentors and peers to guide me. When I return to school, I know I will have a lot of opportunities to lead, since I will be the President of UPTV, a media club on campus, as well as the most senior intern at my job, so I know they will rely on me to help out the new interns and to go above and beyond. I believe this experience has helped me with my confidence overall. I think that’s an important trait as a leader because it allows you to be strong in your decisions and to make your voice heard. People will take you more seriously. I also think it has broadened my comfort zone. That is important because leadership sometimes puts you in uncomfortable positions where you have to make tough decisions. It’s important to try to see the bigger picture and make the best decisions based on that. Another key element that I’m learning here is patience. I have had to learn to be patient with myself as I learn and grow. Being patient is very important in leadership because you will have to work with others and sometimes they may not understand your way of thinking or agree with you. It’s important to be patient when these things happen rather than get angry or frustrated. And you must be patient with yourself as you are learning to be a better leader. There may be times when leaders don’t think they are doing a good job when they are, so you just have to be patient to see the results of your leadership. I think this trip is shaping me into not only a better leader, but a better person. I can’t wait to use the lessons I’m learning here for the rest of my life.