85 days. It is July 30th 2015 and we have been in Scotland for 85 days, 12 weeks and one day, two months and 24 days. It feels like we have been waiting for the end of our internship since we stepped off the plane, but now that it is here, it is hard to believe how fast the time has gone. Wasn’t it just last month that I was hustled through customs in London, jetlagged beyond all belief? It couldn’t have been more than a week ago that I tried haggis for the first time, or we climbed Arthur’s Seat and almost got struck by lightning, or met our supervisors and embarked upon this last stretch of our undergraduate degree. By that ilk, didn’t I start at the University of Utah just last year? Was it really in 2011? I guess that’s one of the rewarding things about finishing your Bachelor’s degree in another country; it distances you so much that you are given the opportunity to reflect in a really meaningful way upon your schooling (and life) up till this point and the direction (you think) you are going.
Today was our last day as official passholders in the Scottish Parliament. As of tomorrow, we are just like the general public—we have to go through security and be escorted by an employee at all times. Our freedom of the building has ended in tandem with the expiration of our visas. Soon, it will not be legal for us to even walk upon the soil of this nation of nations. It wasn’t perceptible at the time, but now that we are at the end of the race, it is clear that we absorbed quite a bit of the Scottish culture, just little by little. We both feel a strong bond to our office co-workers and companions, especially because we saw comparatively little of our direct supervisors, the MSPs. It just goes to show that the people you work with can make or break an experience, and we both were extremely fortunate to find fast friends in our colleagues.
So what did we learn? Kya learned how to respond to constituent requests and demands, especially ones of a very sensitive nature. Machi learned how to be an effective employee while working in an office with the polar opposite of her personal political views. Kya gained first-hand experience working with a tough-to-please supervisor in a high-stress environment. Machi find-tuned skills she accumulated during a previous internship. Kya honed her problem-solving skills and became highly efficient at contacting the right person about the right problem. We both gained a fierce loyalty towards the party and our specific politicians, even though we were thrown into the game with little previous experience or knowledge.
Although we can look back at our internships and smile warmly, we are both happy to be moving on. Not because we had a bad time in Scotland, but it seems like an era has come to an end. Now is the time to seek full-time (paid) employment (you’re welcome, mom and dad). Requirements for undergraduate degrees have been fulfilled and obtained; we expect to see out paper degrees in the mail shortly. So what’s next? Now, at 22 years of age, that question is scarier than our shared bathroom in our flat. Masters degrees are probably in the works, but so too are further employment and many more experiences and opportunities. So stay tunes; in the sitcom that is the lives of Machi and Kya (known to friends as Machya), we’re just in the opening sketch.