If you recognize that loose play-on-words, we can be friends.
Disclaimer: This is a long one.
I have been back and forth in my head about whether or not I should post about this, but in many ways I feel like I have to. Why was I so MIA this summer? Why did I only publish a couple of blog posts while I was abroad for eight weeks? Why didn’t I share any of my writing from my internship? Well, I’ll try to sum it up as succinctly as I can.
This intern abroad program was not what I expected and, in many ways, was falsely advertised. From the housing to my initial internship experience, I was extremely disappointed and unhappy. I absolutely hated my first internship from day one. Two and half weeks in, there was a misunderstanding between me and my employer about my role at the company and ultimately it was decided that I would work remotely twice a week. This actually left me without work for two whole weeks while this company dragged their feet in coming to this conclusion. I am leaving out the bulk of the story for a reason, but just know that the “remote work” didn’t come and my involvement with that company was the most adverse experience I ever had in my entire life that genuinely took a toll on my psyche.
With the help of my program advisors, however, I was fortunately matched with another company in my last three weeks called The Handbook where things changed exponentially for the better. It was basically a 180. In my first four days of work, I had three published articles and started editing articles immediately. In my second week, I even reviewed three restaurants. People wondered, “Why didn’t they match you there the first time around?” I cannot answer that question except for maybe the fact that the other intern who was placed there was an actual journalism student where I was not. Regardless, I believe that what happened with my previous internship was the greatest lesson I could take away from this otherwise trying experience. I got the writing practice I wanted, I learned the significance of a positive work environment, and I had a disappointing experience (which is putting it nicely) that has molded me in ways I cannot explain. I feel stronger and I am even more thorough than I already was in my life decisions. So, this brings me to why I kind of disappeared.
Truthfully, I was embarrassed. While I withheld the announcement of my going to London up until May, it was still a huge deal. First, I was taking a risk by exploring an entirely new career path and my family and I paid an immense amount of money for a service to make that happen–mostly based on the fact that I wanted to live in my favorite city for an extended period time before “the real world” happened. Second, I willingly paid that immense amount of money with the understanding that my internship would be unpaid in one of the most expensive cities in the world. To top it all off, I had to reject the possibility of full-time employment with a company I want to work for partly because I was already committed to this program, but also partly because I didn’t realize how much I would appreciate my previous internship before I left for London. I felt like a failure. I would receive texts that said, “How is London?!” and I couldn’t bring myself to lie about the experience. At the same time, I couldn’t bring myself to explain everything that was falling apart so I kept things vague and ended up isolating myself because I couldn’t handle how shameful I felt. There were five out of my eight weeks that I genuinely believed I would be coming back to the U.S. with absolutely nothing to my name except money down the drain. This overwhelming feeling decreased my desire to explore and increased my feelings of loneliness [especially when I wasn’t working], and I spent more days that I would like to admit distracting myself with reality TV instead of being outside looking at the city that I thought would make all of my dreams come true.
Like I said before, I feel stronger now. I am grateful that things turned around so greatly for me and that I am walking away with the experience I wanted, even if it was part-time for three weeks. I even met some really cool people from completely different walks of life that I learned so much from. London is still my favorite city and I will do anything to get back there before I’m 30 (hopefully before 25), but this experience let me know that I am not ready for that step yet. I need to do more preparation professionally and more growing emotionally. Obviously in hind sight, I would not have done this program had I known how things would pan out, but there was no way for me to know. I cannot change what happened, but I can learn from it.
I am so grateful for those who supported me during this time because this was the first time I admitted and accepted that I needed a helping hand. I needed to share this story because it’s important to know not everyone’s life abroad is as magical as it seems. This was true last year as well even when I was having the time of my life. You face the same challenges as you would at home, but you also confront things you never anticipated and, for the most part, on your own. However, it’s all about how you handle it. Regardless of everything, this summer was an invaluable experience. I have no idea what’s around the corner for me now, but I know I’m ready for a totally new chapter. No more school, no more internships, no more breaks. This is the first time in a long time that I am excited not knowing what’s ahead J