I began my internship with BCNUEJ in March 2021 and continued until the last day of September 2021. As I was already in Barcelona, fresh off an Erasmus study abroad semester, I was looking for an additional way to expand my knowledge in the field of ecology, specifically social ecology and using more qualitative data. I was also hoping to find a project I could use for my master’s thesis, using interviews for analysis. I found the internship through a professor of one of my courses that I had recently finished, political ecology. After speaking with her, I found there was new project they were beginning and that they were looking for an intern to begin exactly when my studies ended, kismet!
FEMPUBLICBCN (http://www.bcnuej.org/projects/fempublicbcn/) is a project that wants to identify the use and perception that women and vulnerable residents have with green spaces in Barcelona, before and after the covid pandemic. Two neighborhoods, Sant Antoni and Barceloneta, were chosen for the study as they have a history of gentrification and touristification. Data collection included asking eligible participants to participate in a 20–25 minute survey.
In the first 2-3 months of my internship, in the building and editing of the proposal for funding of the internship I assisted in many administrative areas, for example: helping document the adjustment of schedules and supplies that would be needed for the project, creating a summary of the project for the website, creating information and consent forms, collecting a list of reference points for data collection in the neighborhoods, and creating the survey to be used for data collection. I found this very helpful, to begin on the ground floor of the project, so I could see how projects like this are given the green light to begin. There were many obstacles along the way, and I worked with the primary researchers to find solutions that would not keep pushing the start date of collecting data back. In the end, the data collection started about 1-2 months later than expected. Because of this, and my thesis timeline, I was not able to use the data for my thesis. However, my supervisors were extremely accommodating and helped me to find data from another project that was similar and that I could use for my thesis, while doing the internship.
For data collection, as I said, I familiarized myself with an application used frequently for qualitative data collection and helped create the survey that would be used for data collection, as well as putting them on the tablet devices the data would be collected on. This was sometimes frustrating as I am not a particular savant with technology, but after completing the survey and uploading it on all the devices I felt I had learned a new skill and more confident in taking on tasks that normally I would not.
I participated in training the data collectors and teaching them how to use the devices and upload the data to analyze. For the data collection months, the next 3 to 4 months I was in charge of making sure the data collectors had no issues, collecting consent forms, checking the data had no issues in it, and fixing problems with the data collection devices if they were not performing correctly.
Through this process I would go into the BCNUEJ office, and met other researchers that shared the space. I found everyone to be extremely kind and helpful. I was invited for a dinner with my supervisors and another researcher, which was nice to see life outside the office. During my time in Barcelona, apart from the internship, I found my Spanish improved immensely just by interacting with others and practicing with my flat mates. I was able to visit different areas of Spain, like Sitges, Girona, Montserrat, and more.
Overall, I enjoyed my time in Spain and at the internship greatly. I felt I learned many new skills I otherwise would not have, and that I now know what it takes to create a project from scratch, receive funding, implement that project, and begin analyzing the data. I will miss the institute and the city greatly and hope to return soon.