Macy Werner ’22, is a Communication Studies and Computer Science double major. 

Student on laptopThe study abroad experience: life-changing, travel, immersing into culture. An experience people consider once in a lifetime. Hearing this description from so many before me, I decided before going to college that I would be studying abroad. This plan I had in my head did not change when I first came to Chapman, but slowly reality hit. On top of falling in love with the college environment and the people I surrounded myself with, I added a major in the school of engineering. Although this was a career path I wanted to pursue, it also can be seen as slimming my chances of going abroad. 

So, I had given up on the idea. What was I supposed to do? Leave my friends? Take classes I didn’t need? It seemed that I had to give up on this plan I once had. Until, I started looking further. You know how John Rohn once said if you really want to do something, you will find a way. Well, I began to search for my “way” to study abroad and the opportunity presented itself: The summer programs.

I originally applied and got accepted to go to Prague for a 2020 summer internship. I had a friend going as well. I had filled out all the forms. I even started applying for scholarships. And then the night of our first meeting about what to expect and the interview process, school closed and classes began online. The pandemic that seemingly shut down the world had ended my plan once again. Patiently, as Covid rapidly progressed, I awaited the email saying that my summer program would still go on. I refreshed my email multiple times a day for that one glimpse of hope. But, at last, the email came with the news that study abroad for the rest of 2020 was canceled. I did not let this erase my plan. I began working out my schedule to go the following summer. I took all the right steps, got to the same point as the year before, and then, another email “Study abroad for summer 2021 will be virtual.” Once again, covid had thrown a wrench in my plans.

Nevertheless, I wanted this experience whether it be in person or online. I decided to stay in the program. Soon, I got matched with a company I was excited to work for, I began laying out my summer so that I could prepare for the time change, and I decided for myself to make the best of the situation at hand. I even got a scholarship – the Gilman Scholarship – that along the way encouraged me to embrace this experience and pushed me to realize all the benefits of working abroad.

My internship began at the beginning of June when I was put on a non-profit project to help with the issues of diversity and inclusion in the Czech Republic. I worked with a diverse team that spent their extra time fighting for this cause. I was able to interact through calls, google meet, and Whatsapp. Along the way, I got to meet some pretty amazing people who inspired me to research more about things that may not pertain to just me and the part of the world I live in. I learned about some history of Prague while also getting to use some of my skills from my STEM major.

During the internship, I was given a few jobs. The first assignment was to work on a grant that would fund the whole project. Because it was my first time writing a grant, I gave it my best go and then received helpful feedback from my supervisor. This was a big learning experience that I was grateful to add to my skill set. After we progressed with the grant, I began working on making the project understandable to English-speaking audiences by figuring out the best way to translate and add closed captions to the pilot episode of the project. This task was the main goal of my internship to find the most cost-efficient and accurate way to make this possible. By the end of the internship, we had found the perfect transcription tool and applied it to the pilot. My last task was to begin the setup of social media. The team had once attempted this before, but I worked with them as we started again from scratch and set up a project email. I then explained how to use this email to manage all the social media including youtube which is where they plan to post the pilot episode.

Overall, I was able to finish the tasks assigned to me while also gaining a new skill set, using my communication skills, and applying my computer science skills in some ways. When the internship came to an end, I was satisfied as I was able to contribute to their organization and make strong relationships with my co-workers even from my home. Although this experience may not seem like the life-changing, once-in-a-lifetime experience I once had dreamed of, it was my experience: eye-opening, purposeful, and new.