Back again with my next update! I have now been in Mendoza for three whole weeks and I am so shocked at how fast this is all going by. My weekly routine has emerged and I am settled in completely to daily life here. This experience has already taught me so many life lessons. I am excited to be able to employ them to life back home.
Now that my regular schedule has emerged I can see that some aspects of my role here are different than I initially expected. One thing is my individual role among my own team. I thought I would be able to take charge and immediately begin to accomplish our goals. I was prepared to jump into my role seamlessly without many complications. However, this has not been the case.
Because this is a new culture and language to which I am adjusting, I do not know the customs or the appropriate business behavior that exist here and this has been impeding on my confidence. The interaction between people is very different in Argentina compared to the United States. Therefore, I struggle, and at points am not able, to go out on my own for business matters. I must rely on my team almost completely to successfully navigate negotiations when we are asking for donations or inquiring about specific processes. At times, it is difficult because back in the United States, I am capable of extremely independent work. This newly developed dependence is hard for me to accept.
Other than learning to be a more dependent team player, I am surprised to deal with other cultural customs – such as the famous siesta period. The work habits here are strange to me and the other Americans in my program. Every day, the majority of businesses close between 1:00pm and about 4:30pm to allow people to rest or even take a nap. I find this incredibly frustrating sometimes because I am accustomed to working through the entire day, and to stop my work to wait for business to being again has required me to restructure my expectations for the day. I desire to simply work those hours to go home earlier in the evening, but that is just not the case.
Not everything concerning this internship has been unexpected. The work I am doing now – searching for donations, designing a website, and promoting awareness – requires skills I have used before. I find myself drawing on conclusions from past experiences often in order to address problems I face now. This has been reassuring at times when all other circumstances are new to me. I appreciate the familiarity among an experience that is otherwise completely different.
All in all, this internship is giving me the opportunity to learn crucial skills for later in life. While at times it is difficult to approach a new situation, I know I can trust myself to work things out even if I must rely on other around me for help. They possess different, but equally useful, skills than me and together we can tackle many more challenges than if we were each on our own.