To start off this first blog post, my name is Caitlyn (Cait) and I am interning at the National Coastal Agency of Albania. My office is located in the heart of the capital city Tirana or Tirane, although I will most likely travel for this work. I was drawn to this internship because I felt it blended perfectly my two majors of PitE and International Studies, and because of the emphasis the Agency puts on sustainable development and tourism, something which is of great interest to me in my future career path.
I arrived in Tirana, Albania this past Saturday and it has been a whirlwind since. Today however, is my first day at work. I arrived at my office in the heart of city center groggy because I hadn’t been able to sleep last night. I kept going over in my mind how I would introduce myself, what I would say, how firm my handshake would be etc. I left my apartment early as well because I wanted to grab breakfast as I still have no groceries. I ended up only getting a juice from a street vendor though because I still have a hard time ordering at restaurants and couldn’t find granola bars at the mini mart near me. I arrived though, at 9 o clock sharp, and went in the wrong doors to the wrong office and was greeted with much confusion and stares. The only thing I thought to say was my bosses name in question form. One of the men nodded and proceeded to take me next door. My first encounter with my boss what not entirely what I expected. He motioned for me to sit down and asked me point blank, “What do you want to do here?”. I was a little caught off guard because I’m not entirely sure what I can do here. Our “meeting” lasted about 45 minutes and 5 sentences because he kept being interrupted by staff needing signatures. After he established that I could work on whatever I want pertaining to the multitude of things the Coastal Agency does, I was instructed and to go upstairs and begin my work. In this time I have decided to look into a project proposal for an agritourism startup. I have emailed a few people back at UofM for assistance and guidance and after about 2 hours of research on the subject, feel very excited about this possibility.
The laid back style of my boss and ultimately lack of formal instruction threw me for a loop, but it did cause me to think to myself, “what skills do I have, what can I contribute, what can be continued after I leave, and ultimately what do I want to do here?”.
I’m still finding my footing here and can currently only say about 3 words in Albanian, but I think if I work hard enough and devote enough time, I can make an impact here that most interns in other places don’t get the opportunity to make.