Carina’s internship in Mexico
“Twice we visited families whose children I cared for in the project at their homes. The children were on fire. The most beautiful moment was when a little boy hugged me at the end, beaming and saying “estoy muy feliz.” That was very touching.”
Carina traveled with us to Mexico for a month this summer, and during her time in Latin America she completed an internship in psychology at a children’s aid project in Guadalajara. In this report, she talks about her time in Mexico, her experiences and adventures at the project, and her free time.
Since my FSJ in Ecuador, I wanted to do an internship once I had some more expertise in psychology. My dream was to do this internship in Latin America. At first I was interested in the internship in Guatemala, but Sophia suggested the project in Mexico. Through movies I had some negative preconceptions about Mexico, but all of them were not confirmed. Nevertheless, I was very excited during my preparation time. However, WanderWorld Travel took good care of me and supported me during this time and helped me with my preparations. To prepare for my trip to Mexico, I also borrowed travel guides from the library and browsed through them. In addition, I looked for suitable movies and series and watched them before departure. After my trip, I can say that it is much nicer to clean up the clichés from movies and to get your own picture of the country.
MY FIRST DAYS
I was warmly received by Ariana. She also made sure that I was picked up well from the airport. The day after I arrived, she showed me around Guadalajara. I got along very well with her and could ask her anything. Becca also stayed in the same hostel. The fact that there were two of us also helped a lot in the beginning. On the first day of work, we were picked up and told everything important about the project. I felt very comfortable and in good hands right from the start.
A NORMAL DAY IN THE PROJECT
We started at 9:00 a.m. At the beginning there were vacations, so the daily routine only really started in the last week. The children come to psychology in small groups or alone. I was allowed to ride past the sessions. There is a lot of playing and the kids have fun at the meetings. Sometimes parents came to therapy with their children. I was allowed to watch and ask questions. At 14:00 was then closing time. Every day was different and there were many varied tasks.
In the morning, I usually went to the house in the middle of the center, where children were already playing or talking. Most of the time there was a lot going on there. The children had breakfast and the two psychologists and I prepared the sessions in the meantime. Then we went to the classrooms and picked up the children and teenagers in groups of three. Most of the time they were very happy to escape the math class. In the session, depending on the age, there was a lot of playing but also talking about emotional issues. When I was there, a block was just starting in which they are supposed to learn something about the regulation of emotions. So different groups come to psychology, all with different compositions. Sometimes it’s three six-year-olds who are just learning to sit still. Sometimes teenagers talking about their problems. At noon, there was a hot meal for the children. Sometimes I helped with the serving. In the afternoon, it was mostly desk work, since all the sessions have to be written down. Thanks to the nice working atmosphere, every day went by quickly and it was always an exciting experience.
MY FREE TIME
There is much to discover in Guadalajara. The big city offers many delicious restaurants and interesting museums. I enjoyed walking in a large park. With the great “bosses” from the project I also sometimes did something. Spontaneously we went out to eat or drove through the city. On weekends, it’s not far to the beach.
A highlight for the area around Guadalajara is Tequila. Becca, a buddy and I took a bus one weekend to a place where tequila is made. The “Pueblo Magico” is beautifully located in the mountains. The hills are planted with agave, which is what the alcohol is made from. In one of the many distilleries we took a guided tour and learned everything about the production of the Mexican national drink. With subsequent tasting, of course. There is also a colorful fairground set up in the village square where the locals and tourists dance and celebrate. A very nice place!
MY EXPERIENCE WITH THE CULTURE
I fell in love with the open and warm nature of the people. I quickly made friends who introduced me to the culture. The experience with the children in the project was also enriching.
I already noticed during the first conversation at the airport that the people are totally open and warm. This was confirmed throughout my stay. For example, new friends invited me directly to their homes or simply took me with an “old group of friends” to parties or to beautiful places. Many were also very interested in German culture, which led to interesting exchanges. I don’t remember any cultural difficulties directly. I didn’t always understand the Mexican word jokes, but it was always explained to me if I accidentally said something ambiguous, which can happen very quickly. On the whole, I found the people in Mexico to be very humorous and got along very well with them.
THAT’S WHY I LOVE LATIN AMERICA
Besides the warm nature of the people, I am fascinated by the diversity. It shows in the culture, landscape, flora and fauna. You only have to travel a few hours and you feel like you are in another world. Different traditional clothes, new dishes, a different climate and even the way people speak changes.
MY MOST BEAUTIFUL MOMENT
On two days we visited families whose children go to school in the project. To the family that lives outside the center on a hill, we first drove for a long time over jerky roads. It was nice how they opened their doors to us. We were able to spend some quality time with the children and parents. When we arrived, the children and dogs were very happy. Before that I was allowed to prepare games and activities. We divided into groups and each painted “flags” for our team. I led the games and was a little nervous at first, but everyone, even the moms, were motivated to join in. After that, we played volleyball in the teams. Afterwards we named the strengths of the other team. It was nice to see that children, teenagers and adults played together and everyone had a lot of fun. One little five-year-old boy was on fire. When we said goodbye, little Luis hugged me, beamed at me, and said that he was very happy. That was one of the best moments!
MY FAVORITE PLACE
I was excited about the “mercado”, because here you can discover the Mexican culture. I will never forget the countless food stalls with the busy cooks and waiters. In addition, you can really buy everything here. From the charging cable to the tortilla warmer.
MY TIP FOR FUTURE TRAVELERS
The joy of life and the warmth of the people is something that everyone should have experienced!
I think an internship in psychology in particular requires good to very good language skills. The work revolved a lot around language, for example expressing emotions. Therefore, in my opinion, one should have a good command of everyday Spanish in order not to be overwhelmed with too many new terms. If you then bring openness and an interest in the culture, the prerequisites are perfect.
THIS IS HOW THE JOURNEY HAS CHANGED ME
Some things that I take for granted in Germany I have learned to appreciate anew. For example, the good drinking water from every tap. Or that there is hot water for showers almost everywhere. All in all, I can now take a more reflective look at everyday life here in “luxury”. I also want to take something of the Mexican joie de vivre with me in any case, so that the next time I’m in a traffic jam, for example, instead of being stressed, I can just turn up the music and sing along. I also feel encouraged that I like doing psychological work, also in Spanish, and especially with children.