My International Experience at SFU Public Square

Tue, 03 Apr 2018

Emily Blixt
Intern, SFU Public Square

Emely is a student at Linnaeus University in Sweden, where she majors in Language and Communication. At school she has been active in programs that help international students integrate with native born students. Her interest in social issues and cultural meetings lead her to SFU Public Square for an internship. Emely is excited to learn how to use her knowledge and experience in practice to create a healthy dialogue in a community.

Since leaving home for the first time when I was 19, I have gradually moved from a dreamer into a wary optimist. I’ve only ever had jobs that I’ve been okay with, but never loved, and I thought I knew what waited for me here in Vancouver. I was excited to get to work in a completely new field and to see a country I’d never visited before. But I did this big move when I moved to London after high school. I knew how bad the homesickness can get and I had started to believe that Gothenburg, Sweden was the only place on earth I could be 100% happy. As it turns out, that is not true.

After seven weeks in Vancouver I can say I have no immediate desire to go home at all. Even when I’m tired at 7:00 AM and need to get up, I’m still excited to go to work at SFU Public Square. When I started, it was only a few weeks before the launch of the annual Community Summit, and I was warned beforehand that it was going to be intense. It was, but not in a disheartening way. It took me by surprise how much I enjoyed an almost never-ending stream of tasks to complete.

The Summit theme was Brave New Work and the events discussed various factors affecting how the world of work is evolving. It was an amazing, if slightly exhausting, experience. I got to see what really goes into creating successful events. There are things that need to be planned for that you don’t really think about as an attendee. For example, you might not think organizing a VIP list takes a lot of team effort, but trust me, it does.

That is another big thing about my work experience here, team work. Even when we have individual tasks that need to get done, there is still a supportive atmosphere in the office. There is always a little room for brainstorming if I’m stuck or unsure about something, and mistakes aren’t the end of the world. The Swedish culture isn’t unfriendly, but it is more reserved than the Canadian one, and I think this more open and talkative mentality plays a big part in making a great team.

I’m so grateful for this opportunity, and the perspective it has given me. Work can be more than simply a way to make a living. It can actually be a source of happiness and purpose in your life. That, along with the wonderful friends I’ve made here and the love and support from family and friends back home, has made this experience unforgettable.