Internships Abroad, GRIP Change of Pace
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June 20, 2023
Dushaun Thompson, CAS '24
University of Minho Law School, Portugal
On the one hand, Braga has provided me the opportunity and resources to pique my academic curiosity and consider my future aspirations in greater depth. This is more or less what I expected from this internship, and it has delivered well in this regard. On the other hand, it has also offered me the chance to be more mindful about myself– the me that exists in the moment, and not the one that graduates in just a few semesters or the one that has to consider future career options. While both sides are important to who I am and who I want to be, I’m realizing that the hustle and bustle of undergraduate and pre-professional life at Penn have thrown me somewhat out of balance. The me that enjoys sunny weather, beautiful architecture, delicious food, and good company is someone that I forget to indulge as often as I truthfully should, and is also the one that Braga and Portugal as a whole have allowed me to gratify in surplus.
In Braga, in casual settings and academic forums alike, people are encouraged to take things slowly and take a breather. During our internship, we are urged– forced, even– to take a minimum 2-hour lunch break every day. For the first few days, we would finish our meals within an hour, then feel restless and unproductive for the following hour before we could return to our work. I couldn’t remember the last time I took two hours to eat anything, let alone as a lunch break. After a necessary change in perspective– that leisure and productivity work in complement, not in contrast– slowly but surely, I became adjusted to the Portuguese way of living in the moment. These lunch breaks serve as an opportunity for me to explore the dining scene and awe-inspiring scenery of Braga. They are also a chance for me to get to know my internship supervisors better and meet with the students attending Minho School of Law.
On the weekends, my fellow interns and I have been exploring Braga in further detail as well as other cities in Portugal, namely Porto and Lisbon so far. The weekend that we arrived was during the peak of the Braga Romana festival, which transported the city back in time two millennia to Braga’s founding by Roman conquerors. Roman cuisine like smoked meat and dried fruit were plentiful; music and dance performances were inescapable and entrancing; the sheer level of commitment to the theme instantly made me appreciate the locals’ in for their history and their culture.
Porto’s winding cobblestone streets and colorfully embellished homes made wandering to discover hidden nooks and crannies well worth the time (and the exercise). Viewing the Douro River and the skyline of the city from above was easily among the prettiest sights I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing.
Lisbon is outwardly very similar to Porto, but upon further inspection, I found that it had a more modern and urban feel in comparison to Porto’s old-world-preserved feel. The nightlife was a sight to behold and a thrill to experience; the streets were even more bustling than the clubs as everyone sang and danced together to celebrate Portugal Day.
When my time in Braga eventually comes to an end, as all good things eventually must, I will remember to feed the me that I have rediscovered the same kind of uplifting experiences no matter where I find myself.
The Global Research and Internship Program (GRIP) provides outstanding undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to intern or conduct research abroad for 8 to 12 weeks over the summer. Participants gain career-enhancing experience and global exposure that is essential in a global workforce.