My internship has differed from my beginning expectations because there is a lot of independent work, which I do not mind. My mentor gives me an idea of the things that need to be done and then she allows me to use my (not so creative) creativity to come up with some ideas for the program. For example, this week I redesigned the ID’s and diplomas that will be used during the summer education program. Before I started my internship, I wasn’t sure what to expect because there is the stereotype that you always see the intern running around grabbing coffee and making photocopies, but this is not the case. Everyone treats me as an equal in the workplace and allows me to work at my own pace. It is very different being encouraged to work at my own pace and not have specific deadlines for my work because I am used to being rushed through everything.
Sadly, I haven’t really met any interesting locals, except for my coworkers because I am either at work, at home, or traveling on the weekends. Last summer I had this same issue in London because it was difficult to go out and meet locals when you’re with a whole bunch of Americans (not that I didn’t love you all). We had each other and didn’t feel the need to branch out because there were over 25 UofM students to hang out with instead. However, this time it is different because there is the language barrier and I feel weird going up to someone expecting them to speak English. So, I haven’t met anyone new from Poland, but I am getting close with the other interns so I think that counts for something because those are relationships that I can take back with me to Ann Arbor.
Also, being in Warsaw and the POLIN Museum has brought to light how extremely American I am compared to everyone that I am working with. I have realized this because of the language barrier since I do not know what anyone is saying unless they are talking directly to me in English. So, I am definitely seeing my nationality in a different light, but I do not consider that a bad thing because it allows me to reflect on what being “American” actually means in the Polish context. Other than that, I feel the same when it comes to my gender and ethnicity as I would in Ann Arbor because no one is treating me differently for being a woman. However, since I have traveled to countries like Egypt and Morocco, I know what it is like to identify as a white woman and there it is not so pleasant. I would always have to watch what I was doing because I stuck out like a sore thumb, but here I blend in with the rest of the population. Also, Abby likes to point out how American I am when we go out to eat because I ALWAYS ask for ketchup with my meal. Ketchup is not a big thing here and it makes me very sad because it is the best thing to ever be created. Next time, I am going to bring my own bottle and take it with me to restaurants, but that may even be worse I am not sure yet.
This past weekend I made a trip out to Berlin to visit my friend Zach, who is interning with a startup company. On Saturday, there was a Ross alumni event that we attended and it was very interesting because many of the alumni that showed up had traveled from different countries to attend the event. There were about 12 of us in total and this gave me a different type of visit than I had the first time I was in Berlin because it seemed to be more personalized. Zach and I did everything that I wanted to do in a day and a half, and that included me buying over 2 kilos of chocolate. Additionally, I had the opportunity to go to Zach’s office, which was very different from mine because I 1. do not work in finance and 2. a museum is not the same as a startup company so it was interesting to see his work environment! I am not going to lie, his pong table and dartboard trump my desk on the bottom floor of a museum. Overall, this trip was different for me because I actually know the history of the city and that helped me appreciate everything more than when I was in high school. I hope to be able to return to Berlin again soon because it never ceases to amaze me.