I’m Not Insane; Expectations of an Internship | a series of (partially) misleading titles #5

Two more weeks of internship to go, and my sanity is only partially intact. Thankfully, it’s not really because of my internship; I’m really enjoying my time and work here. No, it’s more a side effect — two side effects that come in the form of a five- and seven-year-old boy. They are my boss’s kids, they are completely crazy, and they are slowly, painstakingly whittling away at the years of my life.

But I’m not here to talk about my babysitting. (my boss is genuinely sorry that work has partly turned into babysitting). It only matters because they, along with my boss and the incessant traveling and the timeless hours in the office, are all part of the package. The first few weeks of my internship had been slow, but now it’s picking up as the days I spend in Nivicë outnumber the days I spend in the office. And, oh, how relaxing a time it is! The mountains, the grass, the sheep, the air — I love it all. After the nonstop hell that was my school year, sitting back and reading a book in the foothills of Albanian mountains is heaven.

Things that just seem to happen with my internship:

  1. Picking heaps of sweet cherries off branches bowing under the weight of their ripe fruit;
  2. Roasting fresh meat in a campfire as the red-orange sun sets behind the mountains and the infinite stars take a peek;
  3. Traveling to numerous places in southern Albania where the people speak only Albanian and still welcome you with a smile and open arms — absolutely untouched by tourists; a genuine experience and culture;
  4. Sitting. Relaxing. Just appreciating life.

Can anyone else claim to have such an internship?

Of course, there are the hours in the white-walled asylum that we call our office, but with our recent trips to Nivicë and only one day actually in the office out of two weeks, that period of time in my internship seems like a decade ago. It’s almost gotten to the point where I want to be back in the office, just to have some semblance of consistency. But do I really? I enjoy the exploration into the heart of Albania too much to give that up for some hours sitting in an old swivel chair.

While some things about my internship hadn’t met my expectations — or, rather, spiraled in a completely different direction than I expected — I don’t regret a single thing. Here is what I live by:

And I will stick to it. And, because tattoos in Albania are so cheap, maybe I’ll get an ironic-but-is-it-really-ironic tattoo of just that. (Mom and Dad would definitely approve).

I was told before I came here that the internship would be largely unstructured, because internships in Albania aren’t exactly developed. I never could’ve guessed quite the level of nebulous imitation, as everything I do and everything I’ve learned is from my own master, Google. In the US, an internship would entail a close relationship with a supervisor, guidance and instruction, exploration of things and experiences that simply aren’t available in the worldwide interwebs. When I look at my internship, I think to myself sometimes, “I could’ve learned all this at home.” But it wouldn’t have been the same. Even though our boss is incredibly busy and doesn’t necessarily have the time to take our hands and guide us 24/7, the research I’m doing would not have had the same impact if I were Googling from home, because I would not have seen Albania, I would not have fallen in love with the country, and I would not have experienced the passion I do now because I can see the very real impact my project will have on the environment, the animals, the people of Albania.

So how does my internship really compare with my expectations? I mean, it would’ve been nice to have more direct interactions with animals. Something more vet-related. But otherwise, what else did I really expect? I’m incredibly lucky to be able to be here, in Albania of all places, experiencing something that only a handful of others can say they’ve done. I have learned a lot and I have discovered things about myself. So, really — I’m not lying when I say this. No ragrets. 

[disclaimer: as I mentioned above, I might’ve lost my mind somewhere in southern Albania with the constant noise of two little boys existing as they are. I didn’t know where this blog post was going to go; it seems to have just rambled off on its own accord. There it is, in the distance; it’s lost in the mountains.]

2 thoughts on “I’m Not Insane; Expectations of an Internship | a series of (partially) misleading titles #5

  • June 22, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    I’m sorry that the internship wasn’t what you expected, but as you said, some of the best experiences are the ones unplanned! I’m really glad you’re enjoying your time abroad and seeing the fruits of your labor can be so, so rewarding. I almost wish I had this kind of simplicity here at UM.

  • June 26, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    Thank you for writing such a great blog – and I hope you have a few last relaxing days there before returning to the US!


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