Leaving My Comfort Zone & Gaining Confidence Abroad: Candidate Blog

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2021 Medical Intern, Sophie Marcom, starts off her internship in Sevilla. Read how she overcomes the challenges of language barriers and finding her confidence abroad!

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Sophie M., 2021 Medical Intern in Sevilla, Spain. 

Getting tapas with my two Adelante roommates and our Spanish friend Clara.

¡Hola! My name is Sophie Marcom and I am an Adelante Abroad candidate living in Sevilla, Spain for three months. I am currently two months into my program. If you would like to read about my first month in Sevilla you can look at my first blog here! 

In my last blog I wrote about my adjustment to the city and Spanish life, culture shock, and our first weekend trips. Reading back over that blog right now I am surprised by how much has happened since then! In just a month I feel like I have grown so much through my experiences in my internships and the relationships I have built here. 

I started my internship shadowing and assisting at Centro Audiológico on May 31st. The clinic conducts tests for hearing, vertigo and speech as well as offering speech therapy and re-education for patients with vertigo. I am given a lot of flexibility and am able to pick which part of the clinic I want to shadow in each day that I come in. Most of my coworkers are Sevillano and have degrees as audiology technicians. My supervisor, Dra. Amparo Postigo Madueño, is an expert in audiology and specializes in cochlear implants. She runs the clinic while also working part time at El Hospital Universitario Virgen Macarena, one of the largest public hospitals in Sevilla. Working with her has truly been a privilege as she is very admired and respected in her field and has strong relationships with all of her patients and coworkers. I feel very grateful to have built a relationship with her and know that having her guidance now and in the future will help me along my own medical path.

El Centro Audiologico in Los Remedios location

El Centro Audiologico in Los Remedios, Sevilla.

 I can remember feeling completely overwhelmed and out of my element the first time I walked into the clinic. Everything was conducted completely in Spanish; in fact, I have never had a conversation in English with anyone at the clinic in the month and a half that I have been there. During the first few weeks, I did whatever I could to keep up with the fast paced conversations. Sometimes I would be given instructions quickly in Spanish and wouldn’t understand what I was supposed to do. I often went home feeling embarrassed of my Spanish or feeling like my coworkers disliked me. I already knew that starting a new job is challenging and takes adjustment, but during the first two weeks I was pushed so much farther out of my comfort zone than I had ever been before.

Maybe my discomfort and lack of confidence at the beginning of my internship could be perceived as a negative thing, but without this period of adjustment I would never have gotten to the level of Spanish or the confidence that I have now. Now, I can converse with all of my coworkers about almost any subject, understand and even make jokes, and know how to conduct a hearing test and ask for the history of a patient completely in Spanish. I never expected myself to get to this level so quickly. 

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Payton and I with Ana, a counselor at the summer camp who has been volunteering at Casa de Todos for 4 years.

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Self-portraits drawn by all of the children at summer camp.

One of my favorite aspects of working in the clinic was helping with speech therapy.  This gave me an opportunity to work with kids and to practice my own pronunciation in Spanish (which needed some help). Working with kids in the clinic gave me the idea to pursue more opportunities during my time here, as I love working with children and wanted to do more of it. I talked to Dra. Postigo Madueño about possibly allocating some of my time at the clinic to something else where I could work with kids. She was supportive and excited about the idea, so I reached out to my Adelante coordinator in Sevilla to explore options. Within a week he had found me a second Internship at La Casa de Todos, an association that helps disadvantaged families in Sevilla. Another Adelante candidate, Payton, was also assigned to this internship. For the first two weeks I spent half of my day at the clinic and the other half at La Casa de Todos. Payton and I were tasked with planning and directing a summer camp for the children of the neighborhood. We spent two weeks planning, and for the past two weeks we have been directing the camp.

By “directing the camp” I mean actually directing every aspect of the camp and running the events completely in Spanish. This was something I definitely was not prepared for and was one of the most challenging working experiences I have ever had. Neither of us had the confidence to get up in front of 40 Spanish people and tell them what to do in a language that we were still learning. Though looking back, our first day actually went quite well, we left feeling like we were not qualified enough to do this job. Still, we went home that night and rigorously planned the next day, making schedules to hand out to each of the volunteers and rehearsing how we would explain the games and activities. The second day went much better, and from then on our confidence only grew. The camp ended this past Friday and it was so hard to say goodbye to all of the kids and counselors that we had built such strong relationships with. Payton and I are seriously considering coming back for two weeks next summer to do camp again.

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Explaining a game to the older group of kids at camp during our Olympic themed field day.

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All of the children saying goodbye to one of the counselors on the last day of camp.

The experience that Adelante has provided me with through both of my internships is something that I never could have gotten through any other program that I know of. If I had seen myself two months ago planning and coordinating a summer camp or conducting a hearing test completely in Spanish I would not have believed it. Though I am sad to only have one month left here, I know that I will be back because of the amazing relationships I have made and the experiences I have had in Sevilla.

-Sophie Marcom

2021 Medical Intern in Sevilla, Spain

Ready to embark on an internship abroad? Apply today!

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