I arrived back in my hometown two days ago and it’s been so nice to be back. I hadn’t seen my brother since I left for Portugal (over two and a half months ago), so I’ve been spending some quality time with him, my family, and my close friends.
I was so lucky to spend my full summer in Portugal. I feel like I got the best of all worlds: I spent two weeks beforehand hiking the Fisherman’s Trail along the coast, I got to hone my Portuguese skills working at a popular brunch spot, I explored Lisbon, Portugal, and Europe with friends I met through the program.
I’ve never been so fully immersed in a country and culture that isn’t my own. My only real goal for the summer was to practice my Portuguese and to get a break from the academic and social stress of the school year. I think both those goals were met. I’m coming home speaking better Portuguese than I’ve ever spoken and I feel like I’ve inherited a bit of the more relaxed Portuguese outlook on life. I’m a pretty competitive, focused, and straight-laced person, but being in Portugal taught me to let loose a little, be spontaneous, and just have a little more fun in my life. I’m hoping that this will help me forge a better school/fun balance when I get back to Notre Dame.
My internship wasn’t anything “impressive”. I didn’t work at a law firm, or a consulting firm, or a lab. I spent 8 hours a day taking orders, busing tables, and making smoothies. But I think it was exactly what I needed after my first year at Notre Dame. I learned other life skills: how to make mistakes and not perseverate on them, how to push through even when you’re exhausted, and how nice it is when someone cares enough to be kind to you. Working in the service industry was harder than I thought. I’m used to academic challenges, but this challenged me physically and emotionally. I’m glad I got to experience that, and I’m glad I got to do it while practicing a language that has a special place in the heart of me and my family.