The [Not So] Scaries of Internships Abroad

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IES Abroad

We understand, there’s a lot to think about before you intern abroad. But, there's nothing to fear! IES Internships will support you from application to airplane and all the way back. Our IES Internships Ambassadors (alumni who speak about their internships abroad and in the United States) tell us what misconceptions and ‘scaries’ they experienced that turned out to be not so scary after all.

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Taking to Public Transportation

“Before heading to Shanghai I was initially ‘scared’ about not being able to navigate around the city using public transportation. Growing up in suburban Connecticut, and attending college in suburban Pennsylvania, I didn’t have much experience using public transportation. However, after getting over my ‘fear’ of not having a car, I realized that Shanghai’s metro system is extremely easy and clearly labeled, regardless of if you speak Mandarin or not! This initial ‘fear’ of mine turned out to be a total non-issue once I got to Shanghai and I ended up LOVING not having to spend time driving from place to place and used metro rides to get to know my peers, study for my tests and quizzes, people watch, and more! Now that I’m back in suburbia I find myself missing the convenience of public transportation.” – Lexi K. (Shanghai Summer – Internship, IES Abroad Shanghai – Economy, Business & Society ǀ Lafayette College)

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Learning the Local Language

“I was most scared about not being able to understand anything because I didn't know Italian before I went to Milan. Luckily, there was an Italian course offered along with my internship seminar! I was able to quickly pick up the language and to practice it almost every day.” – Kara D. (Milan Summer – Internship ǀ University of Miami)

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Adjusting to Aussie Life

“Just like any big move, I was concerned about meeting people and adjusting to my new home. My journey to Sydney was not any different. When I hugged my parent goodbye at the airport, I knew I was in for a change and, quite frankly, didn’t know if I was ready. Traveling to Sydney alone only allowed me to think about my fear more. When I got to LA, I sat at my gate with all these college students and wondered if these would be my roommates; if they would be in my class; if these were the people that would make my last summer as a college student one to remember. Five minutes off the airplane in Sydney, I met up with my roommate, Jen. After talking to her in the customs line, I knew I would have at least one friend to lean on during my two-month trip. As the days progressed, I met more students from the IES Internships program through various introduction activities planned for us. My employer was also very welcoming. Between group projects with the other interns, lunch outings, and company dinners I created relationships that I still hold on to three months out of the internship. IES Abroad and my employer made an environment that didn’t allow for my fear to come true. Constantly, there was someone who was there for me, someone to travel with, someone to go grab dinner in the city with. Throughout my two months in Sydney, I created bonds that are stronger than any I’ve made before. To those who are nervous about studying abroad, don’t be. People in the study abroad program are nervous too and want to make friends. All you have to do is say hello.” – Kate B. (Sydney Summer – Internship ǀ University of Iowa)

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Discovering the Dialect(s)

“One thing I was very worried about was a language barrier with my coworkers. I actually didn't need to worry about it at all because the company was internationally based and my coworkers not only spoke English, but also at least 10 other languages, too.” – Sara S. (University of Iowa)

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“I found it very scary to think about having to manage my spending when abroad! I thought that organizing a bank account, budgeting expenses, and making decisions about traveling based on my money was going to be very difficult. However, with some pre-trip planning, budgeting was easy! I measured out my weekly allowance based on some estimations, and easily managed to work within them by recording on my phone how much I spent as I went. I even budgeted for multiple weekend trips to other cities!” – Erin B. (Sydney Summer – Internship)

That wasn’t so scary, was it? And who better to hear it from than the interns who’ve lived it?! Remember that IES Internships Ambassadors are available (and happy!) to answer your questions, whether it’s about choosing a location or housing type, or the internship placement process. Go ahead, contact a past intern!

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