2020 is quite the year to be starting a new opportunity. When I started applying for internships in March, like many people, I had no idea the impact coronavirus would have on my academic and internship experience. I was actually preparing to go abroad again in the fall to spend a semester at NYU London. I also thought I’d be spending the summer interning in New York City. Although both of those things did not happen, I’ve been trying to create alternative ways to have an intentional global experience while at home. Thankfully, I secured a remote internship with Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), an international NGO that uses medicine and science to document human rights abuse. PHR does work all around the world but has main focus areas which include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Syria, Iraq, and the United States. Being part of an organization that always has an international presence has forced me to consider not only the United States’ state of affairs, but many other countries that I have no personal connection to. Specifically, because everything is so COVID-oriented right now, it has given me the opportunity to deeper investigate how other countries manage public health crises, such as the one we are living through right now. It’s been super interesting to consider how other countries handle their business.
Because I was mentally prepared to go to London next semester and I am still reminiscing on my semester abroad in Madrid last year, it was important for me to stay globally involved. This mindset gives me something to look forward to because I know that we will all be able to travel again someday. Thinking beyond myself and my current situation and reflecting on global experiences has also been helpful for me to get through each day and pass the time. It’s no secret that quarantine is not going to be the best time of our lives and it can start to get to you, being physically and mentally restricted to the same place. I try to take staycations in my mind by watching shows based in other countries (if you haven’t seen La Casa de Papel yet, do yourself a favor) and listening to podcasts in the language I am trying to learn. I also connect with my friends and professors from my time abroad in Madrid (over Zoom, of course), and read articles from international media outlets from countries that I’ve been to or want to learn more about. Even though I’m not there, it helps me to stay connected and escape a bit from my reality here in the U.S. Now is the perfect time to start learning more about the country you may want to study abroad in or just want to know more about. A little random knowledge never hurt nobody!
Throughout this crazy time, being sent home from NYU and interning from home, I’ve learned that having a mindset of gratefulness is what is going to get me through. None of us asked for this 2020. I don’t think anybody could have dreamed about this reality. Even so, at the end of the day, I’m lucky to be healthy, have an internship, and to be able to connect with different parts of the world even from my couch. I say this quite literally because my couch is essentially my working space! Even if you may not have those things, it helps to reflect on what you’re grateful for and how you can best strategically plan for a future where we can travel to our heart’s delight again. It helps to keep your mind looking forward to something. And if that doesn’t work, I bet watching La Casa de Papel will!
Author: Olivia O’Leary