The First Bump in the Road

I would like to take the time to – for  perhaps the first time in this blog – speak of a personal struggle. I have been very lucky during this internship and compared to other interns have had very few very setbacks and challenges. This is probably because I was the 17th intern at my placement, so my professional life was set before I arrived. I had an official boss, tasks, and a schedule. For this I am truly thankful to Niagara College and Project MATE, because many interns were not nearly as fortunate. I also was lucky that I spoke Spanish at an advanced level, which meant communicating professionally came with only some difficulty and doing necessary things like finding an apartment and buying groceries was very easy. I also was fortunate to have a fellow intern, Tulliana, live only three hours away who was an amazing, bright, and fun companion for most weekends. I also had the prior experience of adapting to a new culture as I had spent 6 weeks in three separate counties during the summers of my undergrad. And therefore I did not experience any culture shock when I arrived and the skills I had developed abroad prepared me to sail through any difficulties experienced here. I utmost admire the interns who signed up for a 6-month contract without this experience to fall back on.

This week, I am experiencing my first real challenge after four months. I have a severe allergic reaction. It has been three days of sleepless nights, multiple doctor visits, and an inability to concentrate at work. Aesthetically, it is also pretty terrible.

But as the medication is finally taking some effect, and I can think clearly, what I am most frustrated about is not the actual illness, but disappointment in myself. During a time of utmost discomfort, I subconsciously said to myself “that’s it, I’m going home.”

I decided not to leave. But the fact that I wanted to, makes me question my character. Am I not as resilient as I thought? I could not overcome my first challenge! Was it just great luck that made the last four months a breeze? Was it not my past experiences, my personal growth, my determination?

Once my contract is finished at the end of February I hope to find work in my field in Peru or Equador for a few months. Hopefully I will find further hiccups that will challenge and test myself and ones that I can push through without contemplating to return home.


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