Recently, I began my internship for Action Challenge, a company that plans adventure holidays around the world for other companies, corporations, and individuals in order to raise money for charities. As a new intern for the company, I have done a variety of odd jobs around the office which include filing papers, entering client information, and preparing brochures for their various events. On one occasion, actually the other day, I was updating the brochure on Nepal, and thought that someone had misspelled the word “while” throughout the entire pamphlet. I was not sure if I should make any revisions, but then a thought came to me, and I remembered that even though the languages are the same there is a variance in the spelling of words. I made a mental note to keep an eye out for other words that are spelled differently, and found that there were several different words which included the following words: airplane is aeroplane, color is colour, specialty is speciality, flavor is flavour, check is cheque, license is licence, and that is to just name a few. Realizing this information was definitely helpful because it kept me from “correcting” the spelling “errors” I thought I had found in the document. I realized that even though there are many things here that are the same there is still a great deal I am learning which I have not fully adjusted to.
Another observation I have noticed in this country is their work ethic. Don’t get me wrong, everyone I work with works extremely hard, are very diligent, and they complete all their work. But, the way they go about it is so much more relaxed then in the states. I have repeatedly heard people say that in their country people “work to live” while in America it seems as if people “live to work.” This is completely noticeable in the office. At my initial interview, I was told my work hours would be from 9-5, so naturally on my first day of work I showed up a little before 9 in order to be on time. Little did I know that I would end up waiting outside the office until 9:17 at which time the first person showed up, and she was even surprised to see me. Eventually everyone else straggled in and by 9:30 everyone was there. But, at home if I was told the work day starts at 9 in the morning, well then I better arrive 8:45. Lunch is one hour and everyone takes advantage of that full hour. Everyone leaves the office at whatever time they want to take lunch, and do not return until their hour is up. No one sits at their desk eating their lunch, and doing their work which you might see happen a lot in the states.
A third observation I have noticed is that I work too fast for them. Their work ethic here is much more relaxed. They are constantly telling me to take my time because they said I am finishing my work before they have time to come up with something else for me to do.
Finally, I have also been made aware of vacation time. In the states the average vacation time someone is allowed to take off is 10 days a year. That’s almost 3 times less then here because in this country employees are given 28 days a year of paid vacation on top of the bank holidays.
So far the 3 days of working for Action Challenge has been a very good and educational experience. I am very fortunate to be apart of an amazing company that incorporates such interesting and cultural experiences. I am lucky to have the opportunity to live the different work ethic in this country, and see their culture in an aspect not many study abroad students get to witness because most of the time students go abroad to study, but I get the bonus of an internship. I can’t wait to find out what else I will learn from this incredible experience.
Taylor Tencate is studying abroad in London, England, with the Foundation for International Education (FIE).