With the career fair around the corner, I am sure that internships are on everyone’s minds, but I have a message to those freshmen who are not sure what they will do this summer if an internship opportunity does not come up. First, I want to express that if you do not get an internship, do not get discouraged. Getting an internship during your freshman year is quite rare. Second, think about the positives: now you have the whole summer to do different activities and this may be your last opportunity to do so. My advice is to travel and see the world while you have the chance.
This summer I had the opportunity to travel to Taiwan, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands. My first stop was Taiwan, where I was in the AID Summer Program. The AID Program is government run and is to “assist students with disadvantages” in Taiwan. Each summer, they take 400 volunteers between the ages of 16 and 24 from English-speaking countries and allow them to go teach English to Taiwanese students in rural areas for one month. I am very thankful that I got this opportunity because I was able to see Taiwan, which is such a beautiful country with such a different culture than the United States. Beyond that, I got to work with and teach 19 middle school students which was a unique and rewarding experience. Teaching was not easy because the language barrier made it difficult and middle school is always a tough age to teach. Overcoming the challenges of trying to make sure the students understood and paid attention to the lessons while having fun was definitely a learning experience. Towards the end of the program, I was so upset that I had to leave my students, despite the upheavals I ended up really liking them and I still miss them now.
After Taiwan, I traveled to Switzerland to visit a friend of mine. I traveled with her and her younger brother around Europe. First, we went to Marbella, Spain, a gorgeous city that thrives on tourism with beautiful beaches, amazing food, and a rich culture in the Old Town. We were there for one week and spent many days at the beach, enjoyed the boardwalk and port, ate a ton of gelato, and explored all of the amazing architecture and shops in Old Town. Marbella was probably my favorite part of my Europe trip but everywhere I visited was amazing. Then I spent a day in Thun, Switzerland way up in the mountains, where my friend lives. Later on in my trip I got to visit Zurich which is a very different landscape from Thun. In Thun, I was by a flowing river and in view of so many mountains, and visited a suspension bridge that crossed from mountain to mountain. Her family took me on a road trip to visit Dusseldorf, Germany that is a very tourist based shopping area, like the 5th Avenue of Germany, it had many big name stores and a famous church right in the center of town. On the road trip, we also visited Roermond in the Netherlands, a quaint and rustic town with cobblestone roads and lots of small boutique stores. On the couple days of my trip, I visited Bern, the capital of Switzerland, and Zurich, the place that everyone believes is the capital of Switzerland. Zurich was similar to Dusseldorf in Germany, a popular shopping area, but it also had an Old Town with classic statues and architecture and many stores selling Swiss cheese and chocolate. I was very sad to leave Europe but was very lucky to have the chance to see and embrace the beauty of each place I visited.
What I am getting at is that during the summer, specifically the summer after your freshman year, take the opportunity to travel and see the world. Open your eyes up to new places that are a unique landscape to what you have seen your entire life. Do something you did not think you would ever have the chance to do. Take advantage of it and do something that you have always wanted to do. I am so thankful for the things I was able to do and see this summer. I feel like I have gained life experiences and been exposed to new cultures that I truly appreciate. If you are going to the career fair, don’t stress—just check it out and have fun, but if nothing catches your eye, don’t fret. Look into something that you really want to do this summer.