Brushing off challenges

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been in Madrid for almost three weeks. The days are flying by as I keep myself busy with a balance of work and fun.  I have adjusted well to the schedule and I feel more comfortable with each passing day. In my job, I am now working a more concrete work schedule. After an office switch and having to meet some new personnel, I am getting more comfortable with my coworkers, and my supervisor is doing a great job of leading me through everything. I have been busy with various marketing and communications tasks in which I am learning these valuable business components while improving my Spanish each day through constant conversation. I am looking forward to the next 6ish weeks of work here in Madrid.

This past weekend was extremely fun. The entire city turned their attention to the Real Madrid vs Liverpool battle for the Champions League title. All five members of my host family are diehard Real Madrid fans, so they celebrated accordingly. My friends, family and I celebrated all day, and after the game, practically the whole city gathered in the plaza for more celebration. Unfortunately, my phone was stolen out of my pocket without me even noticing. The pickpockets here are legit – Jess and I are down 2-0. Other than that, it was a great night and one that I will never forget. 

During my work, I experience ambiguity in a couple of ways. First, directions are not always super clear on assignments. They give you tasks and pretty much let you run with them. This is something that is very different in the United States, where tasks are more directed and precise. In the United States, you are watched more closely, but here in Spain, there is a higher level of independence needed. I personally prefer that tasks are specifically drawn out because I like knowing that what I’m doing is accurate and relevant. It’s something that I must adapt to over the next several weeks in order to continue success at my job. After all, forcing myself to be creative will only help me in my field since that is one extremely important component.  

One way of overcoming this challenge is by focusing on thorough communication at all times. This is critical as it will provide you with some sense of direction in your tasks. Also with the language barrier, this becomes even more important, but harder obviously. Practicing thorough communication will always relieve ambiguity in any situation, no matter the profession. Communication is the most necessary skill in the workplace, so it is always a good idea to further develop it.

Another point of uncertainty lies in the slow notion of time and lack of scheduling/planning. In my previous work experiences, time was more exact and closely followed. Here in Spain, time is very open-ended and not valued in the workplace. Also, work days aren’t as planned out, we just see where the day takes us in terms of tasks. Plans often change quickly so it is important to expect the unexpected at all times. It’s not likely that you do the same things and have the same schedule every day. 

A way of overcoming this is to first develop strong time management skills. You never know what’s coming next, so you don’t want to be behind on tasks – this will only add stress to your time at work. Another way of overcoming this uncertainty is simply to have no expectations for the work day. Chances are, the day isn’t going to go as you planned, so preventing yourself from confusion or annoyance is a must. It is important to keep an open mind at all times.

Overall, even though uncertainty and ambiguity is more prevalent in my current workplace, I know that it will always exist in any job I have in the future. I am grateful for this experience as it allows me to get a taste of the natural everyday inconveniences of a professional business environment. I know that any minor troubles that I face will only help me in the long run, as I can look back on these experiences and gain confidence knowing that I am well prepared.

Hasta pronto!

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