How to become Panamanian?

At some point every student needs to ask themselves the same question– How to do an obligatory internship? Do I really need to do it? Pfff this university is killing me with all the papers during the year and now the internship? Well… you can put it that way and do nothing about it or you can choose IAESTE!

Everyone says the same, right? ‘That was the best thing I’ve done in my life!’, ‘I’ll never forget that place and the loving people there!’ or ‘You have to do it next year!’.

This is an average reaction after every IAESTE internship. But I will let YOU decide if my experience is worth repeating and will IAESTE internship  appear on your bucket list.

Jakub and his Venezuelan roommates

So let’s start! After more or less 19 hours with a change in Amsterdam I managed to get from Warsaw to Panama City. The first thing that hit me was the humidity and temperature definitely higher than I could have expected. Me and my new co-worker (another IAESTE intern from Brazil – Yago) got into the taxi and headed home. I lived with two beauties that you can see in the picture – Venezuelans living in Panama (actually it is difficult to meet born and raised Panamanians there) and it turned out they can’t speak English. Well, my Spanish was just like: ‘Hola! Me llamo Kuba’ so I got terrified. We talked a bit through google translate as I needed to get some sleep before the first day at work the following day.

In Comercial de Motores (company I worked for) they welcomed me with open arms. They showed me my duties, namely as I study Mechanical Engineering they asked me construct a hydraulic press especially for used oil filters and water purification system. The company didn’t give me any specific working hours because as they said – these are your tasks and as long as you will show us the results everything is fine. That was of course very helpful with my planned sightseeing and other activities.

Ania and Señor Rafael Watson on a trip

Apart from me, there was also another student from Poland – Ania. She was working at INGENIERÍA ATLÁNTICO– the company owned by Señor Rafael Watson. Why am I mentioning that? It is because thanks to him we were able to enjoy Panama the way we normally couldn’t. He didn’t only help us with everyday issues or finding ways how to spend our free time, but also he made us feel at home.

He wanted us to try all the amazing food they have, understand the culture, see and experience as much as possible.

When it comes to Panama’s beautiful nature – Bocas del Toro, San Blas, Venao beach and Isla Iguana are must see places! As I said to everyone that asked me about Panama – ‘Basically you put your head into the water and everything moves.’ Thanks to being in between of Pacific and Caribbean Panama is a paradise for snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, chilling, seeing real Indians and a lot more that Poland can’t offer.

Jakub at the beach

To sum up I always show this picture you can see above to emphasize how difficult was it to take me back home. Thanks IAESTE for this opportunity!

Jakub Piech


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