I welcome you to embrace everything that comes at you with an open heart and an open mind. The entire experience – the application process, the interview, pre-departure training, in some ways even the internship – will begin and come to an end quickly.

With that in mind, here is my advice to you:

It is difficult to slow down and think about the things that you are experiencing with the demands of life begging for your attention. However, I urge you to take the time to think critically about all of the little things you are experiencing from interpersonal relationships, to your new life in your host country, to the work that you are doing with your host organization. Remember to add social, political, and historical context when thinking through these dynamics.

This experience is not going to only be positive. It is important to recognize, of course, that this is life and this experience is not an exception. There will be times when negative feelings and thoughts overwhelm your mind. Take these thoughts with a grain of salt and think about them deeply. Try your best to combat these negative thoughts by spinning them in a positive light. Negativity will only make the experience more difficult for you; try to embrace these new challenges and use them as a way to develop your adaptability in new environments.

Take the time to learn the languages of those around you as best you can. It is a way to form connections and everyone around you will appreciate the effort. You will find that many of those around you will speak in English. Do not use this as an excuse to not try. As someone coming in from a place of privilege, it is up to you to learn to use the languages spoken by those around you.

Finally, acknowledge your limitations, take time for yourself and reflect. As you engage with various people in a new environment, you are bound to become exhausted. Not to mention the energy-draining heat! You are allowed to spend time alone. At the same time, don’t isolate yourself. Get out there and make the effort to get to know the people around you. It is up to you to develop those personal connections. This will only make your experience more fulfilling.

I am excited to hear your stories and I hope you have a great experience.

Good luck!