The Bug Zapper Challenge

Interns day off

As of today I am officially halfway through my internship here in the British Virgin Islands. It’s strange to think that I have already been here for a month and a half with only that much left to go. But time passes oddly here. Days seem long, but weeks fly by in a flash. At this point you’d think I’d have settled in to the routine, but here the term “routine” must be used loosely. While I have consistent responsibilities, my days are from. And with all the programs in full swing for the summer, I am certainly staying busy. Being the company’s social media butterfly, my days often consist of flitting between ships, finding one photo op to the next. Recently I’ve been frequenting the Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda, which is no complaint on my part as it has quickly become my favorite spot. The resort even retweeted me; and that’s why they pay me the big bucks… or at least they pay me at all. However, even in the fullest of days there’s always time to fit in some fun. Whether it’s ice cream runs on hot afternoons, midday breaks for tubing, not-so-friendly UK versus America sand volleyball matches, beach bonfires or swims at dusk, it often slips my mind that I am here for work.

Throughout my time here I’ve experienced a lot of “firsts”. I finally spent the night on one of the ships. That was a first… as well as a last. It was my first time to celebrate the 4th of July out of the States. And while I must admit that I wasn’t too keen on being in a different country for that holiday in particular, I assure you I represented the motherland with flying colors. Minus, unfortunately, placing second in an intense musical chairs competition in which I ironically lost to a German. Sorry America. But most importantly I achieved my ultimate summer goal: touching the office’s official tennis racket bug zapper. Talk about anti-climactic and rewarding all at the same time. No matter the experience, there always something to be learned.

I’ve discovered that somewhere along my journeys, traveling has evolved from a mere hobby to a way of life. When I returned from my semester in Italy, it wasn’t a matter of “if” but “when” my next adventure would be. And just like selecting a program abroad, it was important to find an internship that would benefit and challenge me as both an individual and a scholar. Living, learning, and working in a foreign environment provides a brilliant setting for academic and personal growth. Stepping out of comfort into unconventional has encouraged me to reevaluate my everyday expectations and exercise flexibility as well as creative problem solving.

Granted, Sorrento to Tortola is a pretty drastic step, but even five thousand miles apart there are still uncanny parallels I’ve found through my time spent in each. It seems that what you take out of an opportunity is only a matter of what you put in. There is a close correlation between your attitude and your experience. A good experience requires an open mind, a willingness to change, and the confidence to try new things.

I mean, anyone could take a trip to the Caribbean, right? Even I can attest to that after docking on several surrounding islands via cruise ships throughout my younger years. No matter where you go, Italy, islands, Antarctica, it takes a conscious effort to submerse yourself into the local culture and customs of a new community. It’s when you finally achieve that sense of belonging that you are compelled to take an active role in the new environment of which you reside. And that, my friends, is my real summer goal.