Published on February 20, 2015
Along with all the benefits of exploring a new culture while gaining professional experience, an internship abroad allows eager young people to meet new and interesting people. After traveling and working in a new culture, you're bound to return home with stories about the friends and characters you met during your international adventures.
Who will I meet on my internship abroad?
1. The expert expat
Like a shepherd leading the flock, the established expatriate is an important source of guidance for an intern abroad. They know exactly what you’re going through and their own experiences offer a wealth of insight for newbies. From restaurant recommendations, public transport tips or local boyfriend/girlfriend troubles, the expert expat knows what to say because they've been there, done that. Cherish those who offer their assistance and show your gratitude in whatever way possible. They don’t have any obligation to help your clueless self out and will be reluctant to help again if you don’t offer a genuine thanks.
2. The new best friend from your home country (who you maybe wouldn’t have talked to in your home country)
There’s nothing like being thrown into a completely foreign culture to make you realize all the things you have in common with your compatriots. During that initial period of culture shock it’s natural to establish connections quickly with the few around you from your home country. You’ll realize that the girl or guy you maybe wouldn’t have talked to in your Spanish class is now your best friend as you explore a new city and culture. Embrace the opportunity to expand your horizons in all different ways. Don’t close yourself off to your fellow nationals, as long as you also find the time to immerse yourself in the new culture. Everyone needs a travel buddy.
3. The charming local who's your special guide
Whether he’s a swoon worthy Colombian eager to show you around Medellín or a fresh-faced Hong Kong native working at your finance internship, every city has people who enjoy the intrigue of a foreigner and want to show off their native culture. You never know what kind of adventures an international romance might bring you? Just be sure you both keep in mind you’ve already purchased your return ticket home.
4. The weathered traveler who has actually been everywhere
They are probably unshaven, maybe they’ve got some dreadlocks going and hygiene isn’t exactly a priority, but, just like that Johnny Cash song, they’ve been everywhere, man. These are the ideal people to consult about which Belizean island has the best beaches and which Sherpa to lead you up Mt. Everest. Just don’t get too attached, they probably won’t be around for long.
5. The professional inspiration
Meeting a passionate, hardworking boss or coworker abroad is inspirational in a different way than a mentor from your home country. Seeing someone “killin’ it” in their own culture is a way to identify the universal qualities of a successful person while also witness a different style of professionalism, leadership and problem-solving. These connections can also lead to future opportunities in foreign countries.
6. The kind stranger
Living in a new place, let alone a new country, can be daunting. There are times when you have no choice but to ask questions of people who are busy leading their own lives, minding their own business. Relying on the kindness of strangers is the only way to survive abroad, and you’ll find there are a surprising amount of people out there willing to help someone they don’t know. It can’t help but inspire you to return the favor when you return to your home country.
7. The pretentious non-native speaker
So you’re interning abroad... you go out and it’s all English speakers. However, out of the blue you hear an exaggerated Spanish accent out of the corner of the room. It’s that guy. The “immersed” guy, even though he’s at the party full of English speakers. Please, señor, though having mastered a second language is impressive, it doesn’t mean you get to show off, particularly to a room of people who are also busting their butts trying learn the language themselves. Practicing vocabulary with roommates is one thing, but making it known to the world that you have been abroad is just pretentious.
8. The wise local
If you’re lucky, you’ll meet a local abroad who is a good 20 years or older than you and can offer you genuine insight into how the country has developed and changed over the years. They will also be the type of person to ask you questions about your home country you haven’t even considered. Over any encounter with fun young locals at bars, these will be the conversations you will hold onto.
9. The cool international friend
Inevitably, foreigners from all over the world tend to run in similar circles while living outside their home country. It’s much easier to share with people from all around the world when you yourself are also in a foreign country. This allows you to open up your friend circle to interesting foreigners from all over the world. You may even rack up enough contacts to be able to couch surf or snag a job in another country in the future.
10. The “let’s speak in English” friend
If you’re interning in Madrid, Hong Kong or Colombia, you are bound to find a local who insists the two of you speak in English. They are so eager to practice their years of English studies, it may be hard to force the conversation into their language. It’s a battle of will and with these people you have to really make an effort to not spend all your time with them speaking English.
Meet all these people and boost your career! Apply now for an internship abroad!