El Reflejo

I have officially been back in the States for over a week now, and Madrid already feels centuries away. I miss it immensely, but I am confident that I will be back again.

My Experience

My overall experience was pretty amazing. I was able to work at an internship full-time for two months. My specific internship was as a video and media production intern at a company called La Casita de Ingles. It’s a school that teaches children between the ages of 3-12 English. Its central location is in Madrid, with several other locations just outside of Madrid. I was responsible for creating promotional videos and other content for their social media pages, which is very similar to what I do at Pitt. I am a video production intern for the Student Affairs marketing team, so I was really in my element with this job. My supervisors and co-workers were the most welcoming people I have ever met and they made me feel so valued and appreciated within the company. I really made some long-lasting connections there.

Additionally, I lived with a host family who took wonderful care of me. I was really blessed with my location. I was right in the center of Madrid right next to the Schweppes Building, which is a huge landmark that everyone recognizes there:

Image result for the schweppes building
My building is the first one to the right!

I had a host mom and two host siblings who I immediately fell in love with. They were two of the sweetest and funniest children I have ever met. I really got to improve my Spanish and learn a lot more about traditional Spanish cuisine and culture by living with a host family. They also took me to some new places that I would’ve never gone to otherwise! I was so grateful for this entire experience.

Growth

I feel as though I have grown in many ways on this trip. I have grown personally through independence and patience. This program was definitely one of the more independent programs Pitt has to offer. I feel as though I was already pretty independent, but even more so now. I had to really get comfortable with going places alone and exploring new things by myself. I’ve discovered how much I love my alone time. I was so used to always trying to have someone to talk to, whether it be in person or through texting. But I used my phone way less abroad which felt so liberating and I realized I don’t always have to be talking to someone. I also realized how fun it is to meet new people! I met so many people that I probably never would’ve talked to if I was constantly with someone. I really learned to put myself out there. But I also had to learn to be patient with myself. At the beginning of the program, I kept thinking “maybe I picked the wrong program,” and “this isn’t for me”, but over time, as I was changing, I started to fit the program. And by the end I thought, “wow, this was actually the perfect program for me!” I was exactly what I needed. I also had to be very patient with my Spanish skills. I kept getting so frustrated with myself because I didn’t feel like I was doing enough to improve, but I really had to change my mindset in order to grow.

Furthermore, academically, I really did improve my Spanish, and not solely my speaking abilities. I can listen a lot better, I can read it better, and I just have a much better understanding of the language itself. The structure and the manner that people speak has become much more clear to me. This makes it easier for me to speak in the first place because I don’t have to think as much about the way I’m structuring my sentences or the actual words I’m saying. I just think it flows more fluently from my tongue. I also bought a book in Spanish. It is at a middle school level, and I still have trouble understanding some of it. But reading was always my weakest point in Spanish class, and I can really understand a lot of what I’m reading now! I just have to keep pushing myself. This whole trip has definitely improved my confidence when speaking as well. I would barely speak in any of my Spanish classes because I was nervous, or I just felt like everyone had a much higher level of speaking because they had studied abroad. But now, after studying abroad I feel like I will have much more confidence to speak in my classes (but I guess I’ll have to wait until classes actually start to fully know).

Professionally, I have definitely grown in my field. Now, this internship isn’t exactly what I want to be doing in the future, but you have to start somewhere! These internships will help me build my resume and help me gain the skills I need in the future. I definitely honed a lot of the skills I already possessed and I did acquire new ones. I was able to teach one of my co-workers essentially how I do my job too, so she can be a further asset to the company. I thought that was really rewarding. This internship also opened my eyes to new doors I could possibly take in the future. Now, I feel like I could work abroad and I think that just leads to so many new paths I could take professionally. I have made these relationships, and if I work to keep them up, I know that I will be able to use these connections I have abroad for my future. I think that’s so amazing!

Takeaways

There are so many takeaways from this journey, but I feel like the biggest one is the importance of relationship-building. I didn’t really know what to expect from my co-workers and supervisors before I got to my new internship, but in the end I grew to absolutely love them. They kept telling me they wished I could stay and that I will always have place there and now I have a host of new friends on another continent. I have to go back and see them soon. Those connections have made me feel confident that I can have support anywhere I go and with whatever I do as long as I actually make them. I wanted to bring that back with me to not only Pitt Business (mostly because I’m not actually in the Business School) but to Pittsburgh, and even more broadly, wherever I go. I want to be able to make connections everywhere, so that I can go anywhere! Whether it’s connecting with professors, co-workers, or a stranger in a waiting room, you never know where any connection can lead. And that is a very exciting feeling!

I just want to thank Pitt Business and The Roy Hunt Foundation for helping me make this dream of mine come to fruition and giving me one of the greatest experiences of my life!