When my study abroad advisor at the University of Toledo showed me the opportunities at Sant’Anna Institute, I said absolutely not. I love to travel. I want to visit 30 countries by the time I turn 30 years old. But I thought I could only manage an internship in an English-speaking country, with an already familiar culture. I had visited England and Ireland before, so easy choice, right? But I reconsidered.
I wish to study abroad f or the multi-cultural experience. More than seeing “sights,” I thrive on wandering around unfamiliar areas, working hard to observe the authentic local culture, and embracing it in all its un-photoshopped beauty. Unlike on a group tour, where the bus carries 30 or 40 people and drops them all off for a 10 minute photo opportunity with the same 30 or 40 people clogging your camera lens (ask me how I know). Living in a country for even a few weeks allows you to slow down, sit in a café for an afternoon, and watch local life unfold around you. I think learning to respect and appreciate another culture, even if you don’t understand it, dissolves stereotypes and opens your eyes to the unique beauty of the world.
And yet, when my advisor mentioned Italy, a part of me panicked.
But then I remembered, one hardly ever grows within a comfort zone. When stretched, courage and maturity have a chance to flourish. I do not speak Italian. I needed an internship in my major, communication. The idea of seeking that type of internship in a foreign country where I don’t understand the local language seemed absurd. But my advisor assured me that most people in Sorrento speak English, and I could manage. During the application process, and even after learning my placement at the Sant’Anna Institute, I was nervous. What if I mess this up? What if I get there and the cultural expectations are so different—particularly in the work place—that I’m unable to adapt fast enough? Whether I swim or sink is in the balance. I’ve only been here a week, so I suppose the jury is still out. If my first impressions are worth anything, though, I think I’m in for the adventure of a lifetime.
When studying or interning abroad, you do, apparently, study and intern as well. I am working with a professor, Dr. Annmarie Kent-Willette and several staff members at the Sant’Anna Institute. I am eager to see what type of professional growth I develop, setting me apart from our colleagues when we return to the States.
Flexibility is an important skill in today’s work force. And perhaps there is no better way to learn flexibility than a totally out-of-the-comfort-zone experience. Possessing the willingness and ability to adapt, and the experience to prove one can, will certainly look good on a resume. In my first few days here, I’ve struggled a bit with language barriers and have had to change my communication and wording. The Italian work culture is unfamiliar to me, and being flexible and confident enough to “dive in and swim”, when I’m not entirely sure where it’s all going, can be daunting. I am certain, however, that it will be worth it. Developing flexibility and multi-cultural awareness will translate to my future career and empower my success.
For the duration of my internship, I am working in the Sant’Anna office as the communication and public relations intern. I fully anticipate that my multi-faceted project work will enrich my professional experience, even as living in Sorrento enriches me personally. In the office, I will be strategizing and creating content for Sant’Anna’s various social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. I invite you to connect and follow along during this exciting adventure. Some areas I will feature include: Sorrento culture, student profiles, Sant’Anna courses, sights around Sorrento, Italian language and facts, and, perhaps most importantly, FOOD! Gelato, pizza, pasta, fresh markets, you name it, I am working to provide you with a culinary experience, southern Italian style. Give me a better reason to follow on social media. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Besides social media, I will be organizing and developing content for Sant’Anna’s newsletters and blog. The projects I am most excited for are my two feature articles. With these articles which will be posted here on the blog, I will follow one student intern and one study abroad student, each for a day, as they go about their work, adapt to local life, and explore the beauty of Sorrento. If you haven’t been to Sorrento (or Italy, for that matter), it’s very difficult to get the flavor of the culture and the life experience of a student abroad. Even a picture is two-dimensional. And a picture doesn’t tell you what the pizza smells like, or how the ravioli tastes. With these articles, I am hoping to capture that flavor, bringing it alive for all to read.
Studying abroad is a privilege few are able to pursue. In fact, only about 2% of college undergrads do. For those who have the opportunity, I encourage you to seize it and allow it to shape you personally and professionally if you are willing to bravely step out of your comfort zone. As I taste Italy, explore Italy, and immerse myself in ITALY, I will do my very best to share this experience with all of you. I hope to encourage you to pursue that distant shore. Adventure is out there, as my mom would say, “Sometimes you need to take the first step.” Until next time, I invite you to follow along via social media at Sant’Anna Institute. Ciao!
Ciao Italy. Carrani Tours Group. Web. 6/3/2019.