Working at the UN in Geneva, Switzerland
When my supervisor told me that I needed to have more “common sense” in the work that I do everyday, I knew that I wouldn’t be going back to Geneva, Switzerland for a very long time.
At first, I couldn’t wait to move and work for the United Nations at the International Organization of Migration agency. I thought I could finally check off a mark on my career path. I spent my whole Spring semester preparing for my upcoming summer abroad - visas, orientation, finding a place to live, thinking of all the places I would travel to throughout Europe. I was excited to get a second chance at visiting Europe after living in Italy in 2015. Yet, I still felt some hesitation with the upcoming trip.
I began to feel uneasy about spending three months, my entire summer, in Switzerland. I was unsure about my internship placement, plus my life was booming with so much goodness within my new home of DC, I thought leaving to Switzerland would deter everything I worked so hard to build. Was I honestly ready to uproot myself, no matter how short the time would be? I kept going back and forth between what would classify as the best decision for me. Yet, when the time came for me to leave in May, I boarded the plane to my new home for three months.
To say that my internship placement was difficult would be an understatement. My supervisor and I did not mesh well during the summer, even though I did my best at being a good employee. The work I was assigned to do did not correlate with my skillset, so every week I was berated for my performance. Each day, I felt as if I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. I began to doubt my capabilities, my work ethic, my successes, all of the experiences I had. Was I truly not good enough? My supervisor didn’t like me, I was away from my community back in the States, and I was continuously struggling to make ends meet while living in Switzerland. I finally had to ask myself, “Did I make a mistake with moving to Switzerland?”
When I decided to take the opportunity in Switzerland, I felt as if I was checking off a huge step on my career to-do list. Intern for the UN? Check. Live abroad? Check. How could I not be grateful for the opportunity to travel and work abroad? Everyone within my circles kept telling me how “lucky” I was to have such an opportunity and how hard I worked to make this dream come true. I felt bad for not being thankful enough, when in reality, I was struggling to find the goodness in my decision.
I’ve held a lot of shame in talking about my time abroad because I wanted to keep up the facade that my life was amazing. Something alone the lines like this:
“Blessing, how was your summer?”
“Oh my GOODNESS, my summer abroad was AMAZING. I mean, I was living in Geneva, Switzerland working for the UNITED NATIONS. Could my life be anymore fabulous?!”
"I began to doubt my capabilities, my work ethic, my successes, all of the experiences I had. Was I truly not good enough?"
I had this awesome internship, a great fellowship, I was living and traveling all throughout Europe. People were SUPPOSE to be jealous of my life. Yet, I wasn’t satisfied. My summer abroad, with the subsequent months to follow, showed me that not every travel opportunity will be a great one. Travel pushes a person and helps growth to happen. Especially when traveling is part of my career, not every travel moment will be Instagram-worthy. There will be times I’m crying every single day from homesickness or my baggage gets lost or my flight is delayed or I get lost using public transportation. This is the growth part. This is the uneasiness that pushes us to learn more about ourselves.
I learned that I cannot be afraid of being uncomfortable because that’s where all of the goodness comes from. Yeah, my time in Switzerland may not have been the best time of my life. But I made so many amazing friends, traveled more countries (France, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Hungary, Germany), networked, and learned more about myself. I still call that a success.