Ugne Vaiciulyte – Madrid Internship

Ugne in Retiro Park

Ugne in Retiro Park

Interned in accounting at a small firm in fall 2015.

I studied abroad in Madrid during my Senior Fall. Although pretty it was pretty unconventional to go fall semester of my senior year, my thought process was “When will I ever get to live somewhere for 4 months and not have to give up any responsibilities?”

Internship: I had an internship with an accountant that worked with small to mid-size companies. My internship was pretty limited: filing, alphabetizing, data entry and similar tasks. There was not much substance, and I can’t say that if I were to do this program again that I would choose to the internship program. I understand for a finance concentrator it can be pretty hard to find an adequate financial internship, especially for a foreign student for only 3 months. In Spain, it is very unusual to have such a short-term internship.

I Learned: While in Spain, I learned not to take myself too seriously in terms of my professional career (aka enjoy myself a little bit more). Over there, they place a focus on enjoying their meals, their time with their family and friends. They don’t rush through those moments and really make sure to be present. Also, in Spain, they don’t include their jobs as part of their identity. This was a huge revelation for me, as here, when we meet a new person, the small talk usually revolves around “What do you do?” “Where did you go to school?” and “What did you major in?”. In Spain, it is considered rude to ask people about their careers or studies, and a bigger emphasis is put on a persons identity being composed of their likes/dislikes, their hobbies, and their personalities. I think we sometimes forget, and it is important, to differentiate who we are as people versus who we are as professionals.

What Surprised Me: What surprised me most about my time off-campus was how interesting the classes were. I love numbers and math and finance, and the classes I was taking were literature, anthropology and cultural ones. However, I found myself really enjoying the material we covered and the essays we had to write. I thought the academic aspect would be such a drag for me, but it really wasn’t.

Hardest Part: So my hardest part of study abroad is a little different than for most people. I took a weekend trip to Paris the weekend of the attacks and actually ended up being right in the middle of all the action about 10 minutes after they happened. I was very lucky, but it was still a pretty stressful experience which made my time thereafter in Spain a little harder. I found myself really missing my family and friends. I stopped traveling. I stopped going out with my classmates, etc. Which just leads me to speak about the BEST part of this experience: my host family. I became so close with my host family, sharing with them not only my daily experiences but really opening up to them about my personal life back in the States, introducing them to my own family and friends via Skype, planning future visits, etc. Having the family there for me as a support system every day was something I was not expecting, but I am so happy with the family that I got. We still keep in touch to this day in our group chat, still sharing our little every day routine moments. This program has given me people that I became so close with that I can truly call them my second family.

Tips: Bring a comfortable cross body bag. You will need to stuff a cardigan, an umbrella, camera, water bottle, etc. almost every day and walk everywhere, so being comfortable is very important. Bring LAYERS for the crazy weather. Take care of your electronics EVERYWHERE as it seems Madrid just breeds pickpockets. Try all the food.