In addition to taking classes while in Spain, I also have an internship (una práctica). Mi práctica is in the International Department of a private hospital in Sevilla. The International Department has two main functions: translating the doctors’ orders to non-Spanish speaking patients and completing insurance claims for people from outside of Spain. So far, I have been mainly assisting in these two areas. Everyone in the hospital speaks to me exclusively in Spanish, which I really hope will hope with my Spanish skills!
The funny part about this whole thing is that having an internship really isn’t a “thing” in Spain. It’s not something that is very common for native students, so nobody really knows what to expect of me or what I expect of them. I won’t even begin to bore you with the other differences I have observed between the Spanish workplace and that in the United States. Instead, I will candidly share two embarrassing things that have happened to me during my first week of my internship:
- On my first day, within the first thee minutes of meeting my colleagues for the first time, I found myself in the ER assisting in the translation of a patient who had just come in. I was really enjoying this task and the hands-on experience that came with it, BUT, all of a sudden for some strange & unknown reason I began to feel faint. I tried my best to maintain my composure in front of my new coworkers, but eventually decided I needed to take a moment to myself and sit. I have no idea what came over me; I had eaten breakfast / gotten enough sleep / felt fine prior to entering the ER. And no, I have never been squeamish around hospitals. In fact, I volunteered at one for over four years! But anyways – it was slightly embarrassing and my coworkers have not asked me to return to the ER since (LOL).
- Last Thursday, I was shadowing in Admitting for the first time. One of the permanent workers in the department was asking me about my internship. After answering a series of questions regarding mi práctica, he asks “¿Tienes ganas?” The most literal translation for this phrase is “do you have wins,” or “do you have gains.” Obviously neither of those made any sense……… The next logical translation I could think of in my head was “are you getting paid [for the internship].” I immediately waved my hands and said “No” (my visa does not allow me to get paid). He looked at me confused….uh oh…that’s always a bad sign. The next day in class, I asked my professor (a native speaker) what exactly “¿tienes ganas” means.Guess what it means????? It means…..”Are you excited [to be here]?” YIKES. Now everyone thinks that I’m the new intern who is NOT excited to be at my new job. Oops!!!! I’m not exactly sure the best way to say “Hey, I messed up! Last week you said ‘¿tienes ganas?’ and I said ‘no.’ BUT, yes, I am very excited to be here!! Sorry for the confusion!!” in Spanish, but I’m going to go figure that out immediately.
Starting a new job in the United States is difficult, but starting a new job in a different language is a whole other ball game. I have often heard my peers in the States talk about “workplace culture.” I am currently trying to simultaneously navigate “workplace culture” and Spanish culture and sometimes that can be difficult. Nonetheless, I am very excited to have the opportunity to learn about the international workplace firsthand. I know that I will learn so much linguistically, culturally, and professionally by being in the clinic this semester.