If there’s anyone out there looking at a research internship in Portugal, I have some advice for you. Really, just one, big, super important, crucial piece of advice: be patient.
And, I know, patience is the age-old expectation, we’ve all been told a million times to be patient. But man, is it necessary in not only this field of work but this country as well.
I spent the past two months writing a systematic review, and yes, that’s past tense now because I have officially finished!!! I put hundreds of hours of work into a nine page paper with over 50 references. I didn’t even know what a systematic review was three months ago, but here I am, about to be published at the age of 19. But I can’t reiterate enough how long it took to compile even a single sentence.
Data collection itself took over a month, and it was not encouraging to spend all day searching through databases for articles and then find two that fit your inclusion criteria. It feels like a waste of the day, no where near productive. But that’s just the way you have to do it. You have to dredge through databases day after day in order to have the information you need to write. It was disheartening that it took so long to, really, just take notes when my primary task was to produce a paper.
And then, once I started writing, I’d have to go back and look for more information every other paragraph. It felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere.
But I did! Because here I am! Done!!!
It took a lot of baby steps, but baby steps still get you places.
After this experience, I’m pretty confident that I’ll be the most patient person in the entire United States. Portuguese time is an entirely different system of measurement than in the U.S.. You’re a half hour late? That’s nothing, for all your bosses care, that’s the time you’re supposed to start. Bus late? Yeah, get used to it. Food takes 50 minutes? That’s quick here, chill out.
But, honestly, the pace of life here is relaxing. It’s a really nice break from the hustle and bustle of American lifestyles, especially in cities. And it’s an even better break from the chaos of the school year, where everyone and their uncle always has club meetings to attend and papers to write and exams to study for. It’s nice to be able to conduct my day with a “go with the flow” attitude instead of constantly worrying about being late.
Nonetheless, there are times where I feel like my life is being cut shorter by an hour for every minute I have to wait. I like to be productive with my days, to go go go until my to do list is entirely scratched off. And that’s where patience comes in
If you want to do research, you’re going to need patience. It takes a lot of work to be able to produce results. If you want to live in Portugal, you’re going to need patience. It’s refreshing to just go with the flow. Enjoy it.
This is my last blog post of this internship. I am so thankful for this opportunity, my bosses and coworkers, the funding I’ve been blessed with, and everything I’ve learned. Goodbye Lisbon, I’ll see you soon!!