Back home

It has now been exactly a week since I came home from Europe.  And the experience I had abroad was more meaningful and impactful than I could have ever imagined before hand.  Before I left for this program I was very anxious and worried about speaking Spanish in the work place and the pressures and challenges of this especially for my first internship.  However over my time in Madrid I surprised myself many times and was truly surprised at how comfortable I found myself in everyday life.    

One of the aspects of this program I was not prepared for was the independence.  I spent the majority of my time in Madrid on my own.  I went to restaurants on my own and spent the afternoons exploring or reading in the park.  Being on my own gave me the freedom discover what I like to do and keep to my own schedule.  I realized I don’t really like going to art museums and I tend to go just because its the thing to do.  I would prefer to find an interesting building or location to wander around.  I also really like to take long walks from place to place as opposed to the metro.  My perfect afternoon is to go to the park and read under a tree for few hours before going to get a slice of cake and a coffee before dinner.  Of course I was not completely alone I ate dinner every night with my host mother and always had a nice chat.  I was very lucky to be placed with my host family.  They were very welcoming and the support they gave me helped me to establish myself in the city and gave me a safe place to return to after a long day.    

My internship also surprised me.  I did not know what to expect before I got there.  And I found confidence in my work at the NYU Govlab.  At the beginning I was nervous to go to work everyday and I was never sure the work I did was good enough.  My internship was an academic placement meaning most of my work was research and creating video scripts about my research.  What I learned was that the skill set I developed at Pitt in the Political science department was well suited for the work I was doing.  As I realized this, my confidence in my work grew and I started to really enjoy the work I was doing.  I learned a lot from the work I did not only professionally but academically as well.  Because of the nature of my internship I ended up learning about the topic of our research as well as how to work in a professional environment which was just as if not more valuable. 

I decided to make a short list of all of the projects and assignments I was given over the course of my eight-week internship.  It is interesting to me how my assignments evolved as my competence level was assessed and it was nice for me to really reflect on each assignment what each one entailed.  At the beginning my supervisor was obviously testing me out to see at what level I could produce work after I was brought up to speed on the topics we were researching.  My first assignment was to write a video script about Citizen Assemblies using already researched notes.  My next few assignments were to write video scripts on topics that I had to research myself which to me meant that my supervisor was happy with the work I had done and trusted me to do all of my own research with less direction.  Looking through y assignments I continue to see this type of increase in complication and difficulty in the assignments I was given.  Which shows my growth as a got better at completing the assignments and the increase of the trust put in me.

Because of this I will be able to bring what I have learned back to Pitt and back to the Political Science department.  The knowledge I have gained will continue to inform my decisions and thoughts as a student of government.  As well when I move on to other internships or a job I will have the confidence in my skills to feel a little more comfortable on the first day.  I also think this job has given me more confidence academically and I can not wait to get back to school and apply the the things I have learned to my everyday studies. 

This is my very last blog post and so I just want to say that I have had an amazing summer full of self discovery and growth. This experience surprised me in so many ways and I could not be more great full for this opportunity.