Earlier this week, I was working on the final paper for my internship. The last question asked if I would recommend my internship to another student, and more generally, if I would recommend that students do an internship during their semester or year in Spain. I would definitely say yes to both of those questions.
My internship at the Clínica Ojeda de Asma y Alergia has been one of my favorite things about my time in Spain. I’ve been working on a research project to assess the long-term effectiveness of Oral Tolerance Induction therapy for patients with food allergies. Though it hasn’t been the most stereotypically fun internship (like I imagine working in a cooking school or wine shop), but I’ve learned a lot about medicine, allergies, and medical research.
For some people, an internship can feel like more of a chore than a fun extracurricular activity. Though I would definitely recommend that everyone investigate doing an internship, there are plenty of other extracurricular activities to choose from to more fully immerse yourself in Spain and give your time here meaning. Here are some popular options:
1. Fitness: given the prevalence of white bread and lack of vegetables in the average Spaniard’s diet, finding some way to exercise is a good idea. Fitness is a pretty important part of my life at home, so joined a gym immediately when I arrived in Spain to help Madrid feel a little more like home. In the spring, I decided to run a half-marathon, and running longer distances has helped me see more of the city and its parks (my recent discovery of Casa de Campo has been life-changing). Like always, the important thing with fitness is finding something that you enjoy doing, otherwise no matter how many hours you put in, you’ll be miserable.
2. Cooking: though I don’t have experience with taking a cooking class (yet), it’s something that I’ve wanted to do since I arrived in Spain. What better way to learn about a country’s culture than through its food? There are several cooking schools and places that offer cooking classes of all types, so if Spanish cuisine has you bored, you can surely find something a little more exotic.
3. Meetup: I discovered meetup.com at home last summer, but I didn’t really start using it until I arrived in Spain. The idea of the website is that groups of people with similar interests can “meetup”. I’ve primarily used the website for hiking groups so I don’t have to go alone. The groups I’ve been with have been very safe and official, and comprised of a mix of Spaniards and expats from around the world, as well as students. There are groups for pretty much any hobby you can think of to help you integrate yourself into your community here in Spain.