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Life as an Intern Abroad in Seville, Spain

June 28, 2021
by Emily Hellwig

When I entered college as a wide-eyed freshman, I quickly developed a plan to study abroad the summer between my sophomore and junior year. I wanted to make the most of my four short years on campus at Wake Forest University, yet still have the opportunity to authentically practice my Spanish language skills in a location where I would be immersed in the language. While COVID-19 put a hitch in my plans to fully experience my college semesters in Winston-Salem, I am so thankful that with high vaccination rates and lifted travel restrictions, I was able to realize my dreams of going abroad this summer.

When planning this summer, I was immediately drawn to an internship program in lieu of a traditional study abroad program. I was struck by this opportunity because I knew it would require my full immersion in the culture and happenings of a foreign, Spanish-speaking city. Because my primary goal for this summer is to improve my fluency in Spanish, I could not imagine a better way to do so than to gain real-world experience in the language. After a long application and pre-departure process, here I am in Seville, Spain, working as a Scientific Communications Officer at the Seville Biomedical Research Institute.

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What does my internship entail? If you follow the CEA Instagram, you may have gotten a sneak-preview of this answer during my takeover, in which I documented a day in my life. My supervisor at my internship location allowed me to select my own working hours for this summer, trusting me to complete my tasks and fulfill my time log requirements. My self-proclaimed working hours are from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, a daily schedule that gives me ample time to experience Sevilla in the mornings and nights, eat each meal with my house mom and flatmate, and explore the rest of Spain on the weekends. When I clock in, my work revolves around developing audiovisual content for the Institute’s social networks and website. Specifically, I create informational videos—both in Spanish and in English—regarding various research projects that the Institute has initiated or funded, to help strengthen the corporate identity of these projects and inform the public about the Institute’s research. With a background in Communications and as an English native speaker, I am able to successfully explain the research projects in a way that connects with scientists and non-scientists alike, across the globe. I do most of this work in a remote capacity, although I will go on-site weekly to meet with researchers about their projects and to receive feedback on my work.

This past Thursday, I was invited to “tomar un aperitivo” with the entire team. I met and chatted with researchers of all different disciplines, put my Spanish conversational skills to the test, and even appeared in the company-wide annual photo-op! My work at the Seville Biomedical Research Institute this summer has been extremely fulfilling. Every day I get to learn more about a field to which I previously had no exposure, gain experience in a professional setting, and become more comfortable conversing and working in a foreign language. For those who need the encouragement—being a global intern allows you to step outside your comfort zone, integrate yourself into a new cultural worldview and personally experience all the world has to offer!

Emily Hellwig is the Summer 2021 CEA MOJO Blogger in Seville, Spain, and is currently studying at Wake Forest University.
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