IEM On-site Perspectives: Team Spain, 2017
Jan. 9-24, 2017
Summary of Experience
Professionally, Madrid broadened my horizons about the types of programs available and gave me an idea of what aspects I want or don’t want in a career. I realized I would much prefer to work in an organization that offers more support for students. Working with students is an important aspect of this field for me, and I’d much prefer a more interactive position. I like the challenge of supporting students and helping them deal with stressful issues like housing, and I think I would miss these elements working in a program where the students are more independent.
Culturally, I reflected on my own identity and gained a much better understanding of Spanish language and culture. I feel that my time in Spain improved not only my vocabulary but also my willingness to practice speaking with others, which has always been one of the things I struggle with the most. One clear sign of my language improvement came one of the mornings we woke up early to catch a train. My thoughts when I was still tired and trying to wake up were in Spanish, and when I walked out of my room and spoke to my roommates that came out in Spanish too! I took this to be a very good sign. I’m proud that I was able to overcome my hesitation to practice Spanish and make progress while in Madrid.
Personally, I balanced my work and time spent with friends with time to myself for exploring the city. I walked almost everywhere instead of taking the metro- a total of about 150 miles in three weeks! Participating in this program reinforced my love of wandering and exploring in a new city, and I am glad I was able to stay true to this part of myself during the program.
Though I’ve been traveling quite a bit during the last few years, it’s been four years since I actually lived in another country. Three weeks doesn’t count as ‘living’ in place by any means, but falling into a routine easily in Madrid reassured me that I could still adapt to living abroad. I very much hope to live abroad for at least a few years (and maybe much more) in the future, so it felt good to practice adjusting to life in a new culture again for this short time.