Aitana Fischer is an aspiring Psychologist from Andalusia - the southernmost region of Spain. She recently completed a Psychology internship with Intern Abroad HQ in Valencia (a 7 hour drive from her hometown) and shares her experience of adapting to a new culture in her home country while gaining valuable career experience.
What was it like adapting to a different Spanish culture?
The first week of my internship experience was a lot easier than I expected. I was nervous to adapt to the lifestyle at first, because despite the fact that I am Spanish, there are cultural differences that separate the regions (I am from Málaga, Andalusia and my internship was in Valencia).
One cultural similarity I was pleasantly surprised to discover was that Valencianos are also big on naps (siestas), so many local shops would close after lunchtime to respect the ‘siesta’.
Despite there being rivalries between different Spanish regions, I realized that Valencianos are extremely welcoming of other Spaniards, like myself. I’ll particularly miss my host family after this internship, as we bonded and formed a deep connection with each other. They made me feel so at home, and I will miss that experience.
What cultural hurdles & learnings did you experience during your time in Valencia?
The first week in Valencia, I expected to experience problems with the language barrier since Valencia has its own dialect, however I learned that most locals speak Spanish and rarely speak Valenciano. This made communicating a lot easier than I thought it would be.
In terms of multiculturalism, the director of the clinic where I did my Psychology internship is Brazilian and has employees from all backgrounds. The clinic also has a free social program that helps underserved populations, attracting immigrants from all around the world who are escaping as political, war or climate refugees. By interacting with people from so many different backgrounds, I was able to learn about global health and expand my knowledge of mental health issues beyond Spain.
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What were your day-to-day tasks as a Psychology intern? What did the experience teach you about the profession?
Over the course of my internship, I realized there is much more to working as a psychologist than simply helping patients. If you are privileged enough to run your own clinic, you have to operate as an entrepreneur, maintaining and running the business day-to-day.
During my internship, I was exposed to all parts of psychology and the business behind it. For example, during the first week, I helped with administrative tasks. By my third week, I was able to attend a patient session alongside a qualified psychologist. The last two weeks were an especially good learning experience as I was able to observe the interaction between patient and therapist.
I am glad that I participated in this experience because it has not only improved my understanding as a future clinician, but also of myself. My biggest takeaway was that being a clinician is about patience and responding to the needs of the patient.
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What are your favorite memories from your internship in Valencia?
My favorite memory was attending patient sessions. It made me realize how much I love the field of psychology and the importance of mental health in our communities. I now feel empowered within my field to serve underrepresented or minority communities that may not have access to mental health care. I also feel empowered to help people without getting financial rewards in return - I’ve even decided that in the future, I want to offer free therapy sessions a few times a week.
What advice would you share with future interns?
The advice I would share with future interns who are heading into a culturally diverse setting would be to not feel ashamed of the differences you may have with the host culture. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask for clarity on issues. Finally, be as open and flexible as possible.
How can I get started?
Our step-by-step guide on how it works provides you with more information on how to get started. The process is user friendly and there are two options you can take to get the ball rolling.
If you’re unsure of which internship program is right for you, you can simply check availability to submit an enquiry which will help us to point you in the right direction. If you want to chat over the phone, you can also find our full contact information here.
If you already have an idea of what you want to do, and when you want to do it, you can submit your application. It doesn’t cost anything and won’t take more than 5 minutes. However, your formal expression of interest provides the foundation for us to help you take the next steps.