- Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.
My STEP signature project was a global internship in Madrid, Spain. I lived in the heart of Madrid in a part called Chamberi and rode the metro and walked to work five days a week. I worked with people who did not speak very much english. I was able to learn a lot about myself and the Spanish culture.
- What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.
When I first arrived in Spain I didn’t believe in the idea of culture shock. It only took about two days to realize how different this country was compared to what I was used to. The work culture especially is very different. Most workplaces are less formal and when I saw my boss he would kiss me on the cheek which is a traditional spanish greeting. The people in Spain did not want to speak english to us even if they were capable. A lot of times people were nervous to make a mistake just as I was speaking spanish to native spanish speakers. It was also difficult for me to understand the accent and the different words they use with european spanish as opposed to bolivian spanish which I am used to because of my grandmother. I learned how to be less afraid of talking to people and less afraid to make mistakes in life.
- What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.
One of the first few weeks I began my work, a coworker and I were assigned a project. He did not speak much english so it was difficult for us to communicate. Soon we both got over our fear because we realized that both of us would be making mistakes. The first week we did not get much done and our boss was frustrated with the lack of communication between the two of us. He basically told us to troubleshoot the problem and not to be nervous of one another. The next week we talked more and used google translate when one of us couldn’t figure out a word we were trying to say or how to communicate with the other. We ended up being able to finish the assignment and our boss rewarded us with that Friday off.
This experience forced me to speak spanish which in my opinion was the only way I truly learned the language, the accent, and the slang of Madrid, Spain. This helped me also be less afraid to speak instead of gesture when at the grocery store, or when ordering food, or even just when I was out and about. It also allowed me to speak with my other coworkers without being nervous, and help my one coworker significantly improve his english, which was his goal when he heard I was coming to the company for 8 weeks.
Another Ohio State student that worked with me at the same company had the same issues. We forced ourselves to only be able to communicate with one another in spanish while we were at the apartment. That way when we would mess up we wouldn’t be nervous and it forced us to learn how to say things that occur in a more natural friend to friend conversation compared to the conversations we would have normally at work.
Another interaction that I had was when I was in the park and I saw a family taking a selfie, and my normal reaction was to go over and ask if they wanted to to take a regular picture of the entire family. When I approached them I asked in English because I just wasn’t thinking and I startled them. I had to react quick on my feet as to how to pose the same question in Spanish. Once I figured out how to say it in spanish the were very grateful for the picture and said thank you in english which was really cool. Overall this project and these specific relationships and interactions really helped me grow in not being afraid to make mistakes as well as quick thinking on my feet and approaching strangers.
- Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.
This transformation is significant and immensely valuable for my professional life because before I went to Spain I was scared to talk to people no matter what. I was too scared to even ask my high school teachers for a recommendation letter for college. This helped me get over my irrational fears because I saw how easy it is to accomplish things when you just talk through it and go for it. I will no longer be scared to make mistakes, because mistakes are how we learn, and mistakes in Spanish are the reason why I was able to finally communicate with my spanish coworkers.