June 9, 2014

International Internship in Panama


Miraflores pictureBy Matt Perlinger, USGC International Intern, Panama City, Panama

I have now been in Panama for three weeks working in the US Grains Council’s regional office. In addition to my work in the office, which is going very well, I have also had a number of excellent opportunities outside of work relating to the experience of being in a new country, and the ups and downs of assimilating to a totally different culture.

The language has been one of the most obvious differences. Being a Spanish dual major, I was excited for the opportunity to come to Panama to use and improve my Spanish skills. Understanding the Panamanian dialect of Spanish, however, has proven to be one of my biggest challenges so far. Both the accent and the vocabulary are markedly different than what I have been previously exposed to. My own accent in speaking Spanish has been equally puzzling to some of the Panamanians, as I have been asked my country of origin multiple times. I was especially surprised when one taxi driver thought I was from Germany, and another thought I was from Switzerland. To combat this intra-language barrier, I have been taking private Spanish lessons at a school downtown. I am slowly, but surely, starting to see positive results in my ability to understand the locals.

Fried entire fish pictureWeather has been another big difference. Every day it rains a large amount, often coming on quite suddenly. This is at least a partial contributor to the humidity, which is routinely above 90%. While the temperature rarely gets above the upper 80’s, it is still a quite different type of heat than is found in Nebraska. It is also completely dark by 7:00 PM each night, which makes the days seem quite short.

It is hard to believe I am nearly a quarter of the way through my internship here. While I have already gotten to see the Panama Canal and go deep-sea fishing, there is still much more to experience in my remaining time here. I am very grateful to the Nebraska Corn Board and the USGC for this opportunity. I look forward to keeping in touch, and especially to seeing some NE Corn Board members and staff at the USGC meeting in Omaha next month.

2014-06-01 09.04.08   2014-06-01 14.05.10

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