P Johnson, a BA History of Art student, completed an internship at a museum in New York over the summer. They were awarded a £1,000 Santander Universities Go Abroad bursary to help fund their experience.
Thanks to funding provided by Go Abroad I was able to travel to New York City for an internship at the Queens Museum in August 2019. I found the internship through the help of my tutor at university which I am incredibly grateful for. As part of my course I needed to spend some time in a work placement to partake in a research project, and mentioned that I would really want to travel, especially to somewhere like New York, if possible. She put me in contact with the people at the Queens Museum, and after a series of emails and phone calls they were happy to host me. We agreed on me spending roughly 3 weeks at the gallery and I decided to extend my trip to an entire month in order to really get a good amount of time to explore the city. This trip was to be my first time in the US, and because I was going to be travelling along for a fairly long period of time I was initially incredibly nervous.
While working at the Queens Museum my daily routine was rather relaxed. I would get up around 8/8:30, eat breakfast, then walk to work. The gallery was in the middle of a huge park in Queens and the weather, being August, was amazing. The walk through the park was about half an hour and seemed to always set me up for a good day at work, even whilst I was originally nervous.
I was mostly working on the computer but got ample time off to have lunch and breaks in the park and explore the galleries. I was primarily tasked with compiling data gathered from focus groups into a report, which I had to present at the end of my placement to senior members of gallery staff. The work itself was fairly menial but all of the information I was given access to has been perfect for the research needed for my module at university. The general experience of being able to go to New York also completely outweighed any potential meniality of the work to me.
After work I would often explore the local area which was renowned in the city for its amazing food (Mexican, Chinese, Korean). Other times and on my days off I would catch the subway into Manhattan or Brooklyn and explore. My Queens Museum ID card allowed me free entry into all of the major museums and galleries in New York which was a highlight of my trip.
A wider highlight of my experience was the culture shock of it all. I’d never been to the States before and New York City was unlike anywhere else I’ve been. It has such a distinctive character and energy. I especially loved the 24 hour culture of the city. Meal at a restaurant at 4am? No problem. You can basically get whatever you want whenever you want.
I’d recommend attempting something similar for anyone thinking of using the Go Abroad programme. I wouldn’t say I faced many challenges whilst abroad and the experience was incredibly valuable. There were a few hiccups with my accommodation hosts but nothing that couldn’t be solved quickly. The time zone difference compared to the UK felt like an issue at times when messaging friends and family but I quickly found the groove of it all. With the US being predominantly English speaking there were no major language barriers to get in the way either but don’t let that stop you going somewhere else. My top tip for students going abroad would be to try and immerse yourself as much as possible. Home comforts are typically unavailable so try and live differently!
This wouldn’t have been possible without the gracious funding from Go Abroad. The money helped me pay for my flights and accommodation making travelling for a whole month very affordable. Thank you!