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Why I Decided to Complete My Social Work Internship Abroad

Sophie Thoms

Two weeks was all I need to know it was the right decision. 

When I heard about the possibility of doing my six-month internship for my bachelor degree in Social Work abroad, I knew that’s what I wanted to do it. And so I started looking. Over weeks, I searched through all the NGO websites and volunteer blogs to find something that would suit both my university course and my personal preferences. It was harder than I expected it to be. A lot of agencies offered to place me in an internships, but I didn't want to pay the money when there was still a possibility that I could find a placement independently. 

I knew I wanted to go to a Spanish-speaking country and since I'd never been to South America, I started looking for placements there. I had a gut feeling to go to Peru. I couldn't explain it then, and I can't now, but sometimes I just feel like going someplace and it's usually a good decision. 

I found some promising Peruvian NGOs, but in the end I only applied to one; HOOP (Helping Overcome Obstacles Peru) in Arequipa, which would provide an opportunity to learn about social work in a different country and how an NGO works. My Skype interview went well and three months later, here I am and love every moment of it. 

 The first thing I saw when I arrive in Arequipa was Mount Misti, in all her volcanic glory, and Mount Chachani. I was blown away by the beautiful of the place. My first two weeks were all the time I need to get used to it all. 

Getting used to living with 14 other people in one house and all sharing a kitchen.

Getting used to the sun shining every day. (Okay, that one was pretty easy.)

Getting used to people only speaking Spanish to me and my brain constantly working to keep up.

Getting used to not knowing what kind of food to order at the lunch spot.

Getting used to taking the combi (minibus) to school at least three days a week, 40 minutes of bumpy roads, only having minimal space and being cramped together with too many people.

Getting used to that incomparable way the sun sets on the volcanoes. (Never getting used to that, really.)

Getting used to finding my zone, my place, my people.

Working and volunteering in a NGO have been the most rewarding and the most fun and probably my favourite job yet. Three months in and I’m so not done with growing and experiencing and learning and making new friends and having the best time.

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Published in Volunteer Abroad Blogs
Sophie Thoms

Sophie Thoms is currently volunteering with a NGO called HOOP (Helping Overcome Obstacles Peru) in Arequipa, Peru. As a social work student, she is assisting the social worker of the organization in workshops, helping in individual cases and supporting the local community to break the circle of poverty.

Website: https://sophiesroad.wordpress.com/

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