GRIP, Internships Abroad Settled In

June 10, 2017
By Andres Fernandez Pallares, CAS '19

Universidad do Minho - Braga, Portugal

I feel extremely settled in. My usage of Portuguese has improved; I can navigate the town very well and have learned a lot about quiet, out of the way places in town. Travelling often, I end up excited about returning to Braga and my temporary “home.” It is especially lovely to be here in June, because it is the month of the popular saints, with parties and fairs happening in the city center almost every day. This weekend, in particular, has been amazing. Portugal as a whole has a very developed and loved system of folklore, and here in Braga is the largest popular fair in the country, with tens of thousands of people in the streets, popular dances, parades, concerts, children’s games, food and a generally very special atmosphere that reminds me of my childhood in a small city with the equivalent fair (biggest in Mexico).

The day to day job is still the same. I analyze the court cases, research the background, dissect the language and provide instances of when the Court is referring to culture in the argument or decision. However, this week I moved from looking at Article 8 (family and personal life cases) to Article 9 (religious rights) and have enjoyed the transition. The topics present in this article are a lot more controversial, and they clearly involve the Court’s ethics, emotion, and personal feelings more. This contrast is interesting and makes me enjoy the project, seeing the connection better. My boss is pleased by my performance, which is a great motivator, especially because she is so expressive and enthusiastic, helping me see the passion in her work and mimicking it.

My coworkers are excellent. My day starts at the same time as the secretaries, who are always very pleasant, smile and seem to be enjoying themselves. The girls from Penn are great as well, we get lunch together, sometimes with the law students, and generally, find ways to spend time with one another.

The environment as a whole is beginning to turn a lot quieter, as students are leaving, tests are ending and the law school turns to summer mode. There are still some seminars happening, however, and my boss invited me to one in the second week of July, one which promises to align very well with my interests. Something that I often think about is the way that my experience seeing the university here differs from how I see it at Penn. Here, I am a professional, I come and go based on my work hours and have a very different perception of the campus as compared to my experience at Penn, where I reside within the boundaries. This had made me think a lot about the transitions to adulthood, living one place (alone, with roommates, etc) and making a commute to work, after which one departs. I have enjoyed it, but definitely, want a bit more university life living and spending time on a campus

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. Placements and funding awards are available.