Vanessa Gonzalez and the United Nations House

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This is the third in our series of posts about our lovely Spring 2017 Student Representatives! If you’d like to hear more about what our program entails and read about other student experiences from the past semester please click on our home page! 

Vanessa Gonzalez is an international studies major at the University of California Irvine.  She is in her final year of studies and has been a participant on the UCEAP Scottish Political Internship program for the Spring of 2017.  As an intern within the United Nations here in Edinburgh, Vanessa has had an incredibly unique and rewarding internship which you can read about below. 

“My very first day of my internship we were invited to an exposition at the parliament which provided a good and quick introduction to what my internship placement would be like.  I had to learn all about the different projects that were going on and I got to meet members of the parliament and everyone that I was going to be working with.  This was a good beginning to Scotland.”

What was the most rewarding aspect of your internship?

“Being surrounded by other interns who are from all over the world has broadened my perspectives on education and work and how everyone is so internationally linked.  I have learned a lot from my peers and they have learned a lot about the US from my own anecdotes and experiences.”

What has been the most challenging part of your time abroad?

“The type of busy that I’ve had in California is a lot different from the type of busy that I’ve had here so just adapting to the daily routine has been a change.  Also getting into the semester system from a quarter system has been challenging because you have to spread out both the work at the internship and the work for the UCEAP classes differently than I would manage it back at home in the quarter system.”


If you could go backwards would you still choose this program?

“Yes I would because I chose the SPI program specifically because I didn’t just want to study abroad and I considered this program a more efficient use of my time.  Although I don’t interact with Scottish students in the classroom; I’ve gotten to interact with Scottish students and professionals, as well as professionals from all over the world through my internship.”

For future students would you recommend doing a family stay like you did?

“I think it depends on the person.  For me it was a lot more comfortable to be there since I live with my dad back at home so it felt a lot like home.  I felt like I got a lot of the Scottish experience through eating with them and listening to how they refer to certain things. The common day to day things that they do and also being able to look at my own culture in a different way, both my American and Mexican culture, being able to explain it to them was nice.  It really depends on what kind of experience you want to get from it.  I recommend you research your options beforehand.”


What advice would you give to future interns venturing on the SPI program? 

“I would recommend that students on the SPI program come prepared to be very independent.  I think that the study abroad students will have a much different experience than the SPI program which expects you to be very mature and independent along with being very resourceful in terms of finding housing and also being able to manage your time if it is the first time that a student is working and going to school at the same time that might be something different.  And then also to take every opportunity that they can to interact with locals and other professionals both within and outside of their fields by attending as many events as possible because that will give you a more well-rounded experience through those after-hours events.”