I would like to start by thanking my donors for supporting my internship abroad in Spain. Since I came to USI, working as a foreign service officer was always something that piqued my interest. As someone who is interested in U.S. foreign policy and the global community, it sounded like the ideal career to pursue. The problem was, I didn’t know how to prepare myself for getting into this kind of work. Since working at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, not only have I gained a good understanding of how the U.S. Department of State operates, but I’ve also returned home with a set of goals that can help me achieve my dream of one day working as a Foreign Service Officer.
While working at the Embassy, my primary responsibilities were with American Citizen Services (ACS). This agency in the Embassy is dedicated to helping American citizens who experience emergency situations while traveling abroad. Fortunately, Spain is a very safe country. Even large cities like Madrid experience very low levels of violent crime. Pickpocketing, however, is a big issue to foreigners and tourists. Many cases involved people whose passports and money had been stolen. I was responsible for assisting in the process of creating/issuing emergency passports that would allow them to return home.
My time in Spain wasn’t all work, though. On weekends, I would plan small trips around Spain to expand my understanding of Spanish culture and history. One weekend, I took a trip to Valencia, a city famous for creating the traditional Spanish dish, paella. While in Valencia, I took the opportunity to learn about ancient conflicts between the Catholics and Muslims in Spain. I visited different churches and mosques that were constructed in the 15th century. For the first time in my life, I saw the Mediterranean Sea and enjoyed tapas on the beach with my friends.
Ultimately, I had to return home early because of the COVID-19 outbreak in Spain. This was very hard for me because I felt like my time in Spain had only just begun. After returning home, I was able to reflect on everything I accomplished while in Spain. Despite my initial disappointment with returning home, I feel like my time in Spain wasn’t wasted. I think I took advantage of every second while I was there. I saw new things, met new people, and had an overall amazing experience. None of this would have been possible without the contributions of generous donors like yourselves.
I will forever be grateful for the support I received and I hope to pay it forward in the future.