Succeeding Abroad

In terms of being successful in my position, I feel I have accomplished that. Although I personally have some hesitancy in claiming that my boss has said that I have had a lot of success at my job and that I have done, overall, an excellent job. This is my last week at my job, so it is a bittersweet hearing about how I’ve done so far knowing that there isn’t more to come. I feel like, at my company, success is defined by growth, not perfection. In the U.S., I only feel as if I’ve succeeded at my job if I’ve completed what is required of me perfectly. There is also the expectation in the U.S. to “go above and beyond” what is in the job description and if you don’t, you’re not succeeding. Here in Madrid, I have received a lot of praise for becoming more comfortable in my role and being able to handle more responsibility. They work with you to help you succeed, meanwhile in the U.S. you have to figure it out. I still don’t necessarily feel super comfortable in my role, however, I know there has been a big change between when I first started and now. Not only do I, overall, know what I’m doing but I also feel more comfortable taking risks and doing more stuff on my own. I do think a part of succeeding her in Madrid that I didn’t do well at is the social aspect of work. Being socially active with your coworkers is super important here, and although my boss and I have a super close relationship, I am not very close with the rest of my coworkers. This would be because of the language barrier. My boss is very good at speaking at my pace, clarifying things that I might not understand, and being patient when I am speaking with her (as my Spanish is, obviously, not perfect, however she did say she understands me well, so I count it as a win). The rest of my coworkers are nice, but they don’t take the time to be patient with me and speak at my pace, so I don’t have much of a relationship with them. I also think cultural differences played a small role in this as well. In the U.S. you must be invited to do something or go somewhere, here it is much more common to ask or even just do it without asking. A lot of times I’m waiting for the invitation to join or for a direct question before joining in on the conversation, but this isn’t the Spanish way. There’s also the difference that in the U.S. you simply don’t get that close with your co-workers. Here, co-workers are hugging each other goodbye, asking what would be considered in the U.S. personal questions, and even playing pranks on each other. It creates for a nice work environment, something quite different than what I’m used to.

            Overall, I’m very grateful for the opportunity to work at my internship, as having work side-by-side with a psychologist for the last two months has not only taught me so much but will also be super beneficial to have on my resume. Even though I’m not planning on going into therapy or becoming a psychologist, there is still a lot of practical application from my experience here. It will/should also help me obtain other internships in the field of psychology in the future. I could see working in my field in the future being something very rewarding and self-fulfilling, however, I cannot see myself doing this again. I have known that therapy isn’t the route I’m going to take and I have never worked with people with intellectual disabilities before, so coming into this job there was a lot I needed to learn. It is a mentally taxing job and required constant patience and understanding. I feel I have those traits, but I don’t know if I would have the mentally energy to do this long-term. I’m constantly discovering new aspects of this job that require me to think long and hard about the accessibility for those with a disability and how difficult it is for them sometimes. Today, I was working with a man with infantilism and a cognitive disability. We were doing an online lesson in which we help teach him about quality of life and empathy. For some, it is difficult to view the world in a different lens other than their own, so this lesson is supposed to help with that. We were talking about different types of accessibility and lack of accessibility when my boss asked about the signs in the room or on the street and if he can understand them (the answer was no). She then explained that because he doesn’t know how to read the pictures on signs allow him to understand. This man is about 60 years old but doesn’t know how to read because he was never taught how to and because he doesn’t have the mental capability. It was something I never thought about before. I then began thinking how difficult it must be to navigate the world without being able to read. This type of moment is definitely a bit distressing but also eye-opening which is what has made my experience so unique and interesting.

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