Is an overseas internship in your daughter’s future? (Don’t worry, she’ll be fine. You, on the other hand…)

 

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My daughter in Venice. Photo: Stephanie Trujillo

Last December 2, I backed out of the driveway headed for the rural middle school in southwestern Missouri where I teach language arts. It was 7:02 a.m. My phone rang. I saw it was my daughter. Awfully early to get a call. I wondered whether something was wrong.

“Mom!?”

“Yeah, what’s going on?”

“I got the internship!” My heart soared. Two months earlier, she had applied for an internship at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, a modern art museum in Venice, Italy. She would venture to the beautiful floating city to undertake museum duties such as guarding masterpieces, giving presentations, hosting tours, and sculpture cleaning from Feb. 2 to May 2.

She was beyond excited. So was I, but now that her acceptance was official, it was impossible to imagine her moving to a foreign country and working for three long months away from her home, her language, her friends, her family, her life. The night she received the acceptance email, I lay in bed and cried.

I simply could not see it happening. but it did. True, it was a rough transition for everyone at first, but we made it, and it was a beautiful, life-changing experience… for her and me.

And let’s be honest, I realize this isn’t intimidating for everyone. Many kids and their parents have no problem doing this type of thing; however, for Midwesterners like us, just traveling to the coasts of the U.S. is a major excursion. In our eyes, Venice might as well have been Venus.

Internships that pay, like my daughter’s, are popular and highly valued. Study abroad programs are also. Should you ever be so fortunate as to have your child venture out alone on a similar endeavor, here are some tips to get you through it.

1. Be Strong. Even though I was excited, I was also scared for her, but I couldn’t let my reservations known. I had to be strong and encouraging because I knew that deep down she likely had reservations as well. Even though living in Italy and this particular internship had been her dream ever since we discovered it on Google, interrupting her college career and moving to a foreign country would definitely be outside her “comfort zone.” I had to show I was positive about this opportunity.

2. Send your spouse to get her settled. This was my first and best idea. My husband would fly over with her in January to help her get settled and accustomed to her new home. After all, she had never been to Italy, or even Europe for that matter. She had traveled with our family to South Africa five years earlier, and with a group of other college students and veterans to Vietnam in 2015. But Italy? For three months? Alone?

3. Make sure she doesn’t stand out. We Americans like our colors. Once my husband realized her bright floral umbrella could be spied far ahead through a crowd, he purchased her a black one. In looking at her Facebook posts that first week, I noticed her eye-catching, crimson-red purse.  I texted my husband to make sure to get her a black one of those, too. Maybe we were being overly protective, but after watching a few Youtube videos of tourists and residents walking around Venice, we knew the city is a labyrinth of narrow, sometimes dark, walkways interspersed with those picture-perfect canals. No reason to look like an outsider, especially if you’re female.

4. Use technology. Numerous Facetime calls, the app People Tracker, Facebook, and Instagram made Italy seem not quite so far away. She started a blog called “From Venice with Love” that kept her in touch with friends at home. Happily, her work and social schedule quickly filled her time, and posting to Facebook and Instagram became more convenient.

5. Send a care package. We waited a couple of weeks, but then sent things from home she couldn’t find there. For example, the Venice grocery stores she frequented didn’t carry American basics such as Ranch salad dressing or pancake syrup. Peanut butter is  hard to find. So are Ziploc bags.

6. Visit. If possible, visit for a short time about halfway through. This helped me understand the new lifestyle my daughter was experiencing. Her pictures and posts made more sense and I gained a new appreciation for the life-changing time she was having. Plus, it was Venice, people. We had to.

7. Break the trip into “chunks.” This made the trip seem more “doable.” My daughter’s internship broke down into three parts: one five-week period after my husband left, one weeklong chunk when we would visit, and finally one six-week chunk. Honestly, this last part flew by for both my daughter and I as she was finally comfortable and confidently knew her way around the city.

8. Pray. I relied on this daily. It was a great comfort to know that He would protect and care for her continually.

My daughter’s Venice experience was indeed life-changing. She now has an international set of friends she keeps up with daily through What’s App and she can’t wait to return and tour southern Italy. Her internship also confirmed her next steps: to complete her bachelor’s degree in Art Education and then pursue a master’s degree in Art History with the intention of working in a museum setting someday. She is already filling out applications for another overseas internship. I, on the other hand, am writing myself a note to re-read this post when she lands it.

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11 thoughts on “Is an overseas internship in your daughter’s future? (Don’t worry, she’ll be fine. You, on the other hand…)

  1. arjeha June 6, 2017 / 3:49 pm

    What a marvelous opportunity for all of you. You have listed some great tips.

    Like

  2. theapplesinmyorchard June 6, 2017 / 4:32 pm

    Wonderful opportunity for your daughter and you! Two summers ago my college aged son interned in Charleston South Carolina. Even that far away was scary for me and I think exhilerating for him. He did well, loved the new experience, and was able to publish a research paper the following year with him listed at the primary investigator. The paper then was published in an international journal that led to him speaking at an international conference in The Netherlands last fall. The world is much more accessible for our children. I agree that it can be scary, but all your tips are useful and if we give them wings based on a solid foundation, I think it is best we let them fly. Your visits, packages, and communications probably helped you both! I also liked the safey tips of not standing out!

    Liked by 1 person

    • marilynyung June 6, 2017 / 4:55 pm

      Your son’s experiences were incredible! Love how his internship begat the research paper begat the journal publication begat speaking in The Netherlands. Wow. Impressive. Thanks again for your comments!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Tim Gels June 6, 2017 / 9:21 pm

    What a great opportunity your daughter has! She’ll see and experience things that will stay with her for life. You’ve got some great ideas here–thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. elsie June 6, 2017 / 10:16 pm

    What a wonderful experience for your daughter and you! I know that I would have loved to have done something like that when I was younger. It was so smart to note how not to stand out. I’m afraid too many Americans don’t get that, so they become targets for theft. Glad she’s home and you can enjoy her until the next adventure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • marilynyung June 6, 2017 / 11:07 pm

      Yes, we are having a fun summer! Hope you are, too!

      Like

  5. Brittany August 1, 2017 / 2:01 am

    A great read! I’ll have to share it with my mother as I’m sure she’s experiencing some of the same emotions you had, as I’m moving across the globe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • marilynyung August 1, 2017 / 2:23 am

      Tell your mom that everything will be all right! You seem very prepared, organized and down-to-earth. You will have a wonderful experience in Poland!

      Liked by 1 person

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