Who? Brit van der Meijden (19) BSc student of International Land and Water Management
What? Internship at the Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria (INTA)
Where? Santiago del Estero, Argentina
‘International Land and Water Management is the only Bachelor’s in which it is compulsory to do an internship. I wanted to go to South America because I had never been there before and because I wanted to learn Spanish. I tried to avoid the most dangerous countries and Argentina caught my interest. I have been here for two and a half months now. To start with, there was another student from the university, but he has gone home. I have since built up quite the social life so it is anything but lonely.
For my internship I look at the effects of climate change on an irrigation system that is located near the city. I use this data in climate models and look at different scenarios. I also go into the field to interview farmers about their perception of how the climate in the system has changed and the strategies they use to deal with that. Eventually I will also write my Bachelor’s thesis about this.
The way of life in Argentina took some getting used to. The rhythm of the day is adapted to the siesta. This is due to the climate, since it often goes up to 40 degrees in summer, and temperatures can even rise to 50. I do not have the luxury of a siesta, because we often go into the field in the afternoon. On weekdays I often eat dinner with friends, but that is only around 11 o'clock so I often only get to bed at around 1 o'clock. And yes, then the alarm goes off again at 6 in the morning. I have got used to that now.
Two weeks before my internship started, I did a Spanish course in Buenos Aires. But the real way to learn a language is through ordinary life. Now I can keep up perfectly, but that was very different two months ago. Before I came out here, I already tried to learn some Spanish by watching Spanish series and so on, but Argentinian Spanish is different. When I have finished my internship, I plan on travelling through Argentina and Chile for a month. I have already taken a number of weekend trips, but the country is so vast, I have only seen a very small part of it so far. The nearest city is six hours away by bus. It’s a little scary, because I’m travelling alone, but mainly I’m excited and I think it will be a cool experience.
A lot of stress
I would really recommend travelling to Argentina. The people here are really nice and genuine and they invite you for dinners and all that. I have learned to be more flexible. Your plans are constantly being changed, in your work and in your social life. The people here have a very chilled view of life, they are very tranquilo. This makes me realize how much stress we have in the Netherlands. At first I certainly experienced culture shock, because in the Netherlands things are well-organized. If that was not the case here, I would get irritated, but now I can enjoy it. And now I will probably have to get used to the Netherlands again once I am back. My life here is totally different.’ EvdG