Dear Future Intern,

Perhaps you are reading this blog frantically before your first interview with Robyn, hoping to glean some insight into the application process. Maybe you have already been accepted and you are now raking through the CAPI blog archives, tingling with excitement and fear. Better yet, you are in your placement and your house is near empty because you haven’t yet summoned the courage to translate the food labels in the store yet and you just feel so lost. You may have the same fears that I did: that you may lose something essential in the process of being uprooted, that you are not strong enough to endure the challenges, or that it is a step too far and too fast.

Regardless, if you are here to find something to cling to during uncertain times, I am here to be that sturdy branch. It takes an enormous amount of faith to throw yourself into something new. You will cleanse yourself of all the little niceties that create your life in Victoria – the food, the bus routes, the yoga, the lattes. Your routine will regrow with new routines and rituals that seem to spring out of nowhere. With some hesitation, you will release the unessential baggage and appreciate the things that you hold onto more deeply.

I could not know what challenges you will face in the upcoming months – they will mirror your own faults and strengths, and only you will be able to say what those are. However, if I could write you a manifesto for your internship, it would be this:

  • Allow yourself to let go of what you think you should be doing in your internship. Find meaning both in work and outside of it; when one part of your life becomes difficult, plunge yourself deeply into the other.
  • If you find yourself questioning the trajectory of your life during the internship, allow yourself to explore the possibilities and act bravely. You are not on earth to take hesitating steps and muddle through – you are here to pursue your fullest and most loving life. Follow the path that makes your heart warm.
  • Keep one thing constant, whether it is a sport, hobby, or favourite TV show. It will act as a source of familiarity from your Canadian life that will support you during uncertain times.
  • Ignore the expectations and projections of others – your internship is a solo journey that others can observe but not experience. You are the ultimate judge of its meaning and outcomes.
  • Sometimes you will feel like a stupid, inarticulate child. Someone may actually tell you that you are a stupid person! Remember that you are just a small sprout trying to grow, and anyone that tries to stomp on you is just a nature-hating ignoramus.
  • Bring lots of deodorant and shoes. Nobody likes a stinky, barefoot person.
  • Do the extra thing. Go to the fireworks show with that new friend, visit the hydrangea garden on a rainy day, take that uncertain trip to Nagano. Perhaps it will be miserable. Perhaps something life-changing will happen.
  • As my mother said before I left, “It is okay to miss – it means that you really care about something, and that is never wrong.”
  • Of course, you may not miss home either – it is okay to feel happier in your new country than you did previously.
  • Give yourself permission to take it easy sometimes – not every weekend needs to be an episode of a travel documentary or a socialite’s diary. Sometimes all you need to do is eat ice cream in bed while watching British romantic comedies. This is an official intern relaxation technique, endorsed by Meghan and I – we recommend Notting Hill.
  • Be kind, delicate, gentle, and tender. Sensitivity is an asset, not a flaw.
  • Before you come home, make a long list of all the things that you missed and that you want to do when you return. Plan that transition and keep the excitement going, even back in Canada. Schedule the next opportunity to keep the soul happy.

I have so many hopes for you, dear adventurer. I hope that you return to Canada with a contented soul and bad tan lines all over. If you are lucky, your heart will pang when you think of your internship, as mine does now; it is a symptom of having given little pieces of it to the people that you meet along the way. Reach for what you know is right.

My last advice to you is this: go outside and breathe in the fresh air. Refresh your mind and go forth to do the things that you were always meant to do.