My name is Irma Arellano and I'm 22 years old. I'm from Sailem, Virginia and my major is Biology and Spanish at Roanoke College. I chose the Internship Program in Mérida because I wanted to know this part of Mexico and see what biologists do in the field. 

I had the great opportunity of working at CICY (Centro de Investigaciones Científicas de Yucatán) with a Biologist specialized in epifitas and their importance within climate change. This experience helped me to reflect more on what I want to do. It actually confirmed my decision on doing something related with environment and biology.  I realized I want to focus in ecology. 

Having done an internship in Mérida made me realize the impact of tourism in this part of Mexico. I see more people from the US and Canada that want to move here. I also noticed when I went to Dzibichaltun, Chichén Itzá and Telchac that more housing developments (like houses and hotels) are being built. 

During my stay in Merida I learned a lot of things. On one hand about epifitas, which are plants that grow on trees and are not parasites. I also learned how to use public transportation, be more independent, how to adapt to different things and scenarios. 

My homestay family also influenced a lot in my experience here in Mérida. I was able to talk a lot with them and that helped me see things with open eyes and learn from the culture. 

I've lived a lot of transformations while I was here but I think the most important one is independence. This is an experience that requires and pushes yourself to be autonomous. Now I have more confidence  and I'm more relaxed with situations where I would feel anxious before. I didn't like that much to speak Spanish with people before, now I do it all the time. 

If you're thinking about doing an internship in Mérida, I highly recommend this program, it is very important to know how things are different in another country, to do different things and explore! Don't be afraid, you'll be surprised on how well you will adapt and you won't be anxious anymore.