Dear future intern,

I am writing this still feeling a little shocked that my internship is over. I remember first looking at this program and thinking that the deadline for applications was so far away. And then once I got accepted, that pre-departure was so far away, and after pre-departure ended I thought that actually boarding the flight to Indonesia was so far away (this one was only 3 days so I really didn’t know why I thought this but it probably had something to do with having to move out of my house which, in all honesty, did feel like it took forever). Once I landed in Jakarta and began my internship, six months felt like an eternity. I swear, that first week of May in Indonesia felt as long as the entirety of October. Even now, as I write this in a hotel in Thailand, it feels like it will be forever until I’ll be back in Canada celebrating Christmas in my parents’ home. A lesson I can not seem to learn is just how fast time passes. I think I get too caught up in all the things that make my life the way it is now that I can’t picture myself in a different situation until it smacks me in the face and I can’t go back. 

All of this is a long-winded way to say: don’t take your time for granted and assume you have a long time before leaving for your placement or while being in your placement.

Certainly, there will be times when you will feel as if this placement will last forever. Your first couple weeks here when everything is new and exciting, the sheer volume of new experiences will make time seem almost infinite. Or an afternoon at the office where every minute feels like an hour or an evening when homesickness seems to impossibly stretch time. But, there will be moments when you blink, and you’re sitting with friends you met only a few months ago, unable to recall a life before knowing them, and your weekend is over, leaving you wondering how 48 hours passed by so quickly.

While applying for this program, I had a friend warn me that I might hate it here. And I really did think about that. I worried about making friends, about feeling lonely, about language barriers, weather, traffic, pollution, the possibility of losing my hair, and not liking or even being good at my internship. Ultimately, I concluded that the worst outcome of taking this internship would be enduring six months of loneliness, sweatiness, unhappiness, and possibly becoming bald. Yet, it’s only six months, and afterward, I’ll have a story to tell for the rest of my life—an experience of moving across the world and everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong.

Fortunately, this was not the case and my experience in Indonesia was overwhelmingly positive. I did have moments of loneliness, moments when I was so sweaty and hot I wanted to tear my skin off, moments when I wished I was back in Canada, and moments when I was sure my hair was all falling out (currently experiencing one of these moments again).  However, all of these pale in comparison to moments of happiness, laughter, fulfillment, the sensation of the sun and ocean on my skin, new experiences, places, foods, perspectives, and friendships.

Future intern, I cannot predict how your experience will be, but I hope it will be as insightful and meaningful as mine has been, in whatever way that looks like for you.