Dear Wellesley: Julia Simon ’19 Writes From Santander, Spain
This week’s postcard from our 2018 "Dear Wellesley" series comes from Julia Simon ’19 who is writing from Santander, Spain, where she’s interning at the Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo through the Wellesley Spanish Department. Her internship is funded by the Kathryn W. Davis '28 Endowed Fund for International Internships. Go behind the scenes of Julia’s internship with the Wellesley College Instagram account.
I can't believe it's been almost two months since I left the United States and arrived in Spain to start my internship at the Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo (UIMP)! UIMP is in the beautiful region of Cantabria, Spain, in the coastal city of Santander. I was a little scared in the beginning. I had people tell me I was crazy for flying across the world by myself to a country where I knew no one, for a whole entire summer. But, I knew that my prior experiences at Wellesley and abroad had prepared me for this internship.
My office is in Palacio de La Magdalena, an old palace that has been reclaimed by the city and used by UIMP during the summer. The office I share happens to have one of the best views in the building, with a balcony that overlooks gardens and a panorama of the beaches and city as the backdrop. In addition to the great office, I have really enjoyed my time interning in the Office of Cultural Activities. Each week is a little different depending on the activities we have scheduled. The activities range from art exhibits to plays to guest speakers. I help organize and run these activities, acting as support for three or four each week. My favorite activity this summer was seeing the actress/singer Ute Lemper´s performance, “Songs From a Broken Heart”. In addition to seeing her perform, I also got the chance to hear her answer questions about her inspiration, career, and the performance.
Outside of work, I hang out with friends, or explore Santander. The city is small and very walkable/bike-friendly, so I joined the bikeshare program and have made trips to many of the local beaches, lighthouses, and museums. Santander also has quite a few local festivals in the summer. My favorite was San Juan, a celebration of the solstice and new beginnings, which the city celebrates by lighting a huge bonfire on the beach. I have also gotten to visit places like the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Picos de Europa National Park, and The Prado in Madrid.
The most challenging thing this summer has been translating my academic Spanish to professional Spanish as well as adjusting to the more relaxed pace of Spanish life. I’m lucky that I have great coworkers who don't mind explaining the ins and outs of typical Spanish life and correcting my Spanish. This summer has shown me that I am well equipped to deal with the real world. I credit Wellesley for giving me the confidence to make mistakes, and my liberal arts education for teaching me how to be flexible and adapt.
As I enter my last week interning at UIMP I reflect on my experience here. I have grown as a person, gained confidence working in a Spanish-speaking environment and re-defined my career goals. When I return to Wellesley in less than a week for student leader training, I hope to use my experience this summer to guide me during my senior year.