Thoughts on Latvian Food & the Steep Learning Curve of an Intern
Hi all! First off, I’d like to apologize for not writing as frequently as I’d originally planned. I’m spending 8 hours a day researching, writing, and editing, so coming home and writing more can be a bit difficult.
Today is different though. Today is a beautiful Saturday afternoon, and I just spent the last two hours biking around Mezaparks, which is Riga’s version of Central Park. I’ve found a cafe by a lake, and am writing this while waiting for my potato pancakes to arrive.
Finding food I like has been an interesting experience. I struggled at first, but I’ve come to realize that the Latvian diet is very similar to my diet at home. I still eat cereal for breakfast, but unlike at home, I usually eat lunch out. Within a five minute walk of the embassy, there are about 10 restaurants, where you can get a huge, delicious and cheap lunch. For dinner, I usually grab something off the hot plate at the grocery store. I’m trying to build up my “food” vocabulary-it’s a slow process, but I keep trying! I’ve taken a liking to Plov, which is rice cooked in a tomato sauce with vegetables and meat, and most fish dishes are pretty good. Other common dishes are a cold beet soup (zupa) with a kefir base, and a potato salad with herring, beets, and eggs. Suffice to say, both dishes are an acquired taste.
As for work, I feel like I’m learning something new every day, from national security to consumer protection. I’ve had the opportunity to attend a few events, in which Latvian security, NATO presence and combatting Russian propaganda were discussed. As someone who has never been very interested in defense issues, I’m getting a chance to explore topics I probably never would have encountered otherwise.
As one of my very first projects, I researched consumer protection in Canadian energy markets for a conference the embassy supported. I was honest with my supervisor that it was a topic that I knew nothing about, but would try my best. With the help of the Internet, I compiled the information we needed, while learning a lot along the way! I’m hoping it will be helpful when I come back and have to pay a hydro bill again….Overall, I think that project was a good reminder that armed with the Internet and some common sense, there is a lot that a person can accomplish.
While I love this position, it’s not always easy and patience can be necessary. One of my biggest learning curves has been using an appropriate writing style for reports. Depending on the nature of the report, and who I am writing it for, my writing style may change. I’ve had very short documents given back to me 3-4 times asking for different edits from different supervisors. It can get a bit frustrating when I think I am finally done with a report, and then have to fix it again.
That’s when I take a deep breath, and remember that I am here to learn, and rewriting things will ultimately be beneficial. Instead of getting frustrated, I smile, ask questions, and try to learn as much as I can.
That’s why I’ve promised myself I won’t say no to a project. As an intern, your work is expected to be good, but not perfect. You are in a position to learn.
If you’re as lucky as I am, you’ll have supervisors who will take the time to go over your work with you, and explain where you did well, where you could improve. After all, putting my best foot forward is what this experience is all about.
Until next time,
Photo Credit: Natalie Ashton
*The views expressed in this blog post are the author’s own and do not reflect those of the Canadian Government.*