Several weeks ago, I was in one of my classes at Fundação Getulio Vargas, and a small business consultancy came and hosted a ‘How to Pitch 101’ session. It was an engaging pitch that included episodes of SharkTank, and even some impromptu pitches from members of the class. I was impressed with the presentation, and the company seemed like a cool, exciting place.
A few interviews later, I start working at 7bi, the company, as an Operations intern. My job title is intentionally broad; in just three weeks, I have developed proposals for clients, dabbled in graphic design, and created my own business concept. For me, it has been the perfect startup experience; lots of different roles, fast-paced work, and a relaxed environment.
In just one month in Spain, I have gone through orientation, met tons of new people (both American and Spanish), finished a two week intensive Spanish course, finalized my class schedule for the semester, and visited four different Spanish towns/cities. Yet, the lens that I viewed all of that through changed after reading an assigned article last week in one of my classes. The title of the piece is “The View from the Veranda.” The writing compares American study abroad students to colonial settlers. Years ago, settlers left their home countries to move to new colonial lands. They sought the adventure and excitement of travel and a new land. However, most only experienced colonial life through the view from their verandas: they engaged with the colonies enough to enjoy the excitement of something new, but they brought the amenities of their home countries and never immersed themselves into the native culture at a level that would be uncomfortable. Though I had never though of travel abroad in this sense, I see the truth in it. American students studying abroad expect the conveniences of home (internet, their own room, hot water, classes structured in American form, classes with the same dates as American semesters, etc.), even when it may not be the norm of the host culture. I definitely fall victim to many of these demands, as I don’t believe I could truly give up ties with my life back in the US. However, my goal is to strike a balance in which I leave my comfort zone on a daily basis. So far, I have accomplished this through my classes, my internship, and my travels.