Published on April 9, 2015
Why do an internship abroad? Because you'll soon find yourself saying...
1. The world is so much bigger than I thoughtIt takes spending some time in another country to begin to understand just how much you don’t know about the world - your home country included. Each city, each country, each neighborhood has a complex, detailed history that has brought about the living, breathing society apparent today. While conversing with locals abroad you might even get some surprising questions about your own country you hadn't thought about. Wait...what is the immigrant population of our biggest city? Yeah... where does that famous musical tradition actually derive from? Then you’ll realize that each country in the world has a multitude of intricate ecosystems and subcultures that you’ll probably never even hear of. It's daunting but also exciting. There's so much out there in the world to explore and learn!
2. The world is so much smaller than I thought
Then again, the world isn’t so big. After making connections at your internship and with other interns and coworkers, you’ll realize everyone knows someone who knows someone who knows you. Especially with the widespread use of the internet, the world is at our fingertips and making and maintaining connections to people all over the world is easier than ever. Once you start making connections with international travelers, your circle of friends will explode, encompassing people from all corners of the planet.
3. I guess my country isn’t the center of the universe
An internship abroad is a great way to shake that touch of narcissistic nationalism common among those coming from a large, wealthy country. Nobody’s country or culture is superior to another and there’s no way better to internalize that lesson than while living in a foreign country. You’ll quickly realize each country has its advantages and disadvantages. These differences shouldn’t be compared, just acknowledged and respected.
4. Cultural barriers are permeable
Cultural barriers exist everywhere, and not just among people from different countries. However, living abroad is generally when those deep-seated cultural differences can create conflict, or at least discomfort. After feeling moments of vulnerability in a foreign country, you realize people from different cultures really do have very distinct lifestyles, customs and expectations of respect. Once you acknowledge that these differences exist, you can start to learn how to navigate through the differences to find common ground and break down those cultural barriers. It’s not easy though. It takes an effort and a recognition of differences – from all parties.
5. Foreigners are to be welcomed
Spending time and emotional energy trying to fit into another culture will make you appreciate just how hard immigrants and ex-patriots work to integrate themselves into your home culture. Let those who open up their worlds to you while you’re abroad inspire you to do the same for those visiting your home country when you make it back. Once you realize just how difficult it can be to be a foreigner during your internship abroad, it will make you much more patient when you meet someone befuddled in your home country asking you a question with a thick accent. Be gracious, just like those who are gracious to you.
Apply now and expand your worldview!
Photo 4. based on Buddha Earth Witness Mudra, statue, gold over wood, San Francisco International Airport, California, USA by Wonderlane, CC-by-2.0