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Exploring Life Outside a Small Town: My Global Internship Story

July 01, 2021
by CEA MOJO
riley1

Hi everybody! My name is Riley Mihm, and I am just starting my third week interning virtually through CEA in Prague, Czechia! I currently attend the University of Iowa in Iowa City and I am studying Business Analytics with a certificate in International Business. I have spent my whole life growing up in Iowa – in a small town surrounded by corn fields. Growing up, my class always had fewer than 50 other students in it, and the only traveling we got to do was through family vacations. I knew early on in life that I wanted more than Iowa could provide for me. I believe that the Midwest is home to the most kind-hearted people in the world, everyone is hard working and respectful, and sometimes even too overbearingly nice. But, I was always fascinated by life outside of my small town. I had the urge to meet new people and try new things… expand my horizons and learn about new cultures. When I was in middle school, I planned extravagant vacations for my family to Mexico, Jamaica, and even a Caribbean Cruise. But looking back on it, I wish we hadn’t stayed at the fancy American resorts, everything we did was too “touristy” for me… I wanted to EXPLORE. At that age I knew I couldn’t change the country I grew up in or the situation I was in, so I decided to wait till college to travel.

riley2As soon as I got to the University of Iowa, I had the first culture shock of my life. Finally, there was a place I could call home that I was classified as a stranger, the whole population didn’t know my name, who my parents were, or the street I grew up on. I finally had the ability to communicate with people from other cultures and get to know their unique backgrounds. I immediately enrolled in International Studies classes and then eventually talked with my advisor about working on receiving an International Business Certificate by graduation. Soon after that, I started researching the study abroad programs my university has to offer, and fell in love with the CEA program. I applied to study abroad for a semester… and then COVID-19 hit. I felt lost and thought I would never get the opportunity to travel abroad, until I heard that they were doing a virtual program. I immediately sent in my application and waited to hear for approval. When they asked where I would like to do my virtual internship, I said, “Put me anywhere!” So when I got asked to interview with a company in Prague, I had to call and ask my parents where it was, because I had NO CLUE. This is when I started to realize I was clueless about life outside of Iowa. I had only moved from the northern area of Iowa to the southern area, but other than that, I had no idea what was waiting for me outside of the States.

I am not ashamed of the wonderful life I have had growing up in a small town; I am proud. There is no place like the Midwest, but I am eager to finally be able to study abroad next year and visit Prague with my own eyes. Coming from a town where everyone is the same, I am amazed more and more every day by the amazing culture of people from Prague. During my internship seminar, we heard a quote once said by Carl Jung: “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” At only three weeks into my virtual experience, I have learned so much about my own identity, and I can’t imagine how much I will discover when I finally get the opportunity to travel to Europe.

Riley Mihm is a Summer 2021 CEA Content Contributor and a virtual intern for an organization in Prague, Czech Republic. She is currently a student at the University of Iowa.
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