As I was finishing my day interviewing people at the Barcelona gaming convention, I met up with my co-worker, as well as my two supervisors to re-group and discuss our findings. While I as meeting up with my supervisors, they introduced me to another member of the company who was the designer. At the same time as I stretched out my hand to introduce myself, the designer leaned in towards my cheeks. Instinctually, I was startled and jumped back (what was this guy doing?!), but instantly became embarrassed and was glowing bright red. My co-worker and supervisors laughed, as did the designer, who tried again to kiss my cheeks. In Barcelona, it is very normal to give two kisses as a greeting, but I had immediately forgotten in that moment, and I went straight into flight-or-fight mode. This was one of the instances in my internship that showed me some cultural differences between Barcelona and my home.
When I was first applying for an internship, I had no idea what to expect, except that it seemed like a cool way to get credit for a class, as well as another way to learn about Barcelonan culture. First, I must say that it has definitely been a learning roller coaster, full of ups and downs. If a reader is out there thinking that an internship will be a breeze, you have got it all wrong. It is definitely a lot more work than just a normal IES Abroad course because there is both an internship component and a course component, but I’ve goten a lot more out of it than a normal class.
My internship is at a neuromarketing firm, which is still in the tech start-up phase, and my position is a marketing/research intern. As an intern, I have completed research on topics assigned to me, written blog posts, come up with marketing strategies, and more. On the less technical side, I met new people, as well as learned a lot about Barcelonan culture and events that I likely would not have known about otherwise. While the internship seminar course did a great job in preparing me for the different work style of Barcelona and the people, it was certainly a whole different story in actually experiencing it. The most difficult and sometimes frustrating parts were the indirectness and the laidback atmosphere of Barcelona. In the U.S., a lot of the instructions that people give are direct and detailed. I had to learn to always ask questions when I was unsure and just go with the flow, sometimes not knowing exactly how my tasks added to the whole picture. Because the company is still in the start-up phase, I also had to be flexible and throw on different hats, such as from going to a gaming convention and interviewing people to building chairs and unpacking for their new office. However, though I have only been there for a few months, I do feel like I am a part of something bigger than myself, and I really experienced a different side of Barcelona. My supervisors have pushed me out of my professional comfort zone, putting their faith in me with tasks that I did not necessarily think that I had the experience to do.
Furthermore, the seminar course not only educated me about the work culture of Barcelona, but also gave me knowledge about the history of Spain’s market and economy. It gave me guidance in how to prepare for interviews in the future, how to network, and how to write a good resume. As a class, we were also able to exchange experiences and find some comfort in knowing that we were not alone, as well as experience different events together such as attending a networking event or listening to founders of atypical businesses in Barcelona.
With only six more days left at my internship, I cannot believe that I was able to stick through with it and also how much I learned. I researched and saw a new world of technology, research, and video gaming, which I had never before thought about. I met real local people who were able to give me tips about living in Barca, and I also joined a family going through changes and learned along with them. In addition to my amazing experience of studying abroad in general, I will be leaving Barcelona knowing how to take off my American-colored glasses to gain some real global perspective and insight.
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<p>Hi! My name is Chirlien and I am a native New Yorker, going to school at the at the University of Rochester. While I am a science student, I also really enjoy writing, photography,and journalism. I am so excited to be studying abroad in Barcelona this fall. Come with me on this journey as I try to learn the ropes of Barcelona's unique culture and people-hopefully I don't get too lost!</p>