Hello again everyone,
It’s hard to believe that three weeks have passed since I last posted, but I’ve learned that the time really does fly here in Spain, even if the culture is known to be a little “relaxed.” In the past three weeks, I have had the chance to travel around Spain quite a bit, continue my exciting internship, and my family even had the chance to come to Madrid to visit me.
Before I go on to describe all of this, however, I’d like to take some time to acknowledge and thank Notre Dame’s Student International Business Council for providing me with this incredible opportunity. As we approach the 25th anniversary of the Council, I would especially like to express my appreciation to Mr. Frank Potenziani, the founder of the SIBC at Notre Dame. Through his generosity, the SIBC has the resources to send seventeen students such as me abroad to locations all around the world for unique summer experiences. All of this is in addition to the full slate of semester-long projects the SIBC runs across five different divisions and various other special events and collaborations. I have truly been inspired by Mr. Potenziani to take the international business skills I have learned here in Madrid and use them to better live out the SIBC’s motto of “peace through commerce” back in the States.
After finally settling into a routine here in Madrid, my family’s visit was a welcome distraction as we had the chance to see many impressive tourist attractions together, just as we would on a family vacation. We toured the Royal Palace, the Prado museum, and even the world famous “Museo del Jamon,” among other sites. Of course, having my parents pick up the check for some meals was quite the treat. We also made day trips to two cities right near Madrid: Toledo and El Escorial.
Toledo is a beautiful city just under an hour away from Madrid. Notre Dame has a study abroad program in this small “city on a hill,” and, after learning the history of the town, it’s easy to see why. Toledo is sometimes described as the “Jerusalem of the West,” and the many religious influences present in this ancient principality make it the perfect study location for the world’s premier Catholic university. Bernie and I actually met up with some fellow Notre Dame students who made a weekend trip from Toledo to Madrid. It was a cool experience to see some fellow Domers in Spain and hear about how the study abroad program is going.
El Escorial boasts an enormous and historical residence of the King of Spain that was originally commissioned as a monastery, a resting place for the royal line, and a school to promote the Catholic faith. Needless to say, I have had quite the history lesson in the past three weeks.
I was also lucky enough to take a weekend trip to Valencia a few weeks ago with some fellow Intrax interns. We got the chance to relax on the beach, eat paella, and swim in the Mediterranean. I also got my first taste of the hostel lifestyle, which I found to be incredibly fun and engaging. There were people from Australia, Italy and the Philippines staying in our hostel, and we all managed to socialize and have a great time together in Spain.
Lastly, things have been busy at work. Besides volunteering at the US Embassy, I have worked two other American Club events in the past three weeks: a networking happy hour and a Fourth of July themed, American-style barbecue. The happy hour was located on top of a very nice hotel in Madrid, with a great view of the city. As it was my sister’s birthday that day, I definitely got some bonus “brother points” for finding such a “magnifico” venue to celebrate. The Fourth of July barbeque was a fun way to experience two cultures in one, as there was American food and Spanish entertainment. Of course, these events were in addition to my busy daily tasks of creating and implementing a data capture campaign, generating various demographic reports, and organizing attendance at over sixty of the clubs events into one coherent Excel table. My internship has been a fun challenge, as I have had to think critically about problems, outline the steps involved in solving the issues, and recommend the implementation of what I believe to be the best solutions.
As we enter our sixth week here in Madrid, Bernie and I have been extremely fortunate in all that we have been able to do. Stay tuned for one more post detailing the final portion of our adventure.
Here are a few pictures of some of the sites I mentioned above. The first one is me on the beach in Valencia sporting some Notre Dame apparel, followed by me at the monastery of El Escorial, followed by a beautiful view of Toledo.