My name is Brenda Dubois and I’m from Belgium. I arrived in DC end of August thanks to the program The Washington Center to do an internship at Hispanic Heritage Foundation until mid December. It’s the first that I actually left my country for that long, so I’m facing different “dangers of mind” like fear and shyness.
Before coming to DC and during the whole preparation of my trip I didn’t feel fear, it was more excitement, but once I landed fear started to take over. What if I don’t understand what they are telling me? What if I don’t like it? What if I can’t adapt to this new environment? There were so many questions in my head and I didn’t know how to answer them. At some point I just realized that everything was going to be alright. I have to remind myself every day that it is one of the reasons why I wanted to come to DC. I want to learn how to get out of my comfort zone, how to adapt to a new environment and to new situations. At some point I adapted really quick to my new life, but still sometime I wake up with that feeling in my stomach that just reminds me that I’m not in my environment. Thankfully I have strengths to push myself out there, and making the best of it.
The other danger of my mind is shyness. I have always been a shy person, but I never felt it as a barrier until I landed in DC. People here are so open and ready to talk to everyone. And for the first time I felt that my shyness hindered me to talk to people. Back home I always had time to first analyze the person and to analyze the situation, but here I don’t have the time to do that. Everything and everyone is moving so fast. I have to force myself to get out of my comfort zone and just tell myself that I have nothing to lose by talking to people I meet. There are days were it’s easier than other days. Also the fact that English is not my first language made my shyness more explicit. Sometimes I find myself in a situation where I start to get frustrated because I’m not able to express my ideas as well as if it were in French. In these kind of situations I just close up and end up saying nothing at all.
The biggest step was actually coming to DC, the rest is a challenge and kind of a new adventure. I am learning how to deal with my weaknesses and I hope that after those 4 months I will have learned how to change those into strengths. It’s also a way to find myself and find what I really am and what it is that I really want.