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Hello, Conservation Nation! I just moved from Orlando, Florida to Santa Fe, New Mexico for my one-year internship at National Trails Intermountain Region. I've only been in town a few short weeks, but I thought I'd share my experience traveling to my site and getting started.
1. Road trip!
To get to New Mexico, I packed up my car and embarked on a road trip spanning eight days and ten states. It was awesome. Travel blogs, the National Parks Service, and websites like Roadside America and Atlas Obscura gave me ideas for stops. Since I was travelling alone, I took breaks whenever I wanted and stopped anywhere that interested me. I listened to tons of music and podcasts. From scenic byways in Kansas to the second biggest canyon in the country and so, so many museums, I had a lot of fun exploring.
My internship is at National Trails Intermountain Region, which administers nine National Historic Trails and Route 66. Accordingly, I planned my trip to also pass relevant historic sites. Visiting the Frontier Trails Museum in Independence, driving the Santa Fe Trail through Kansas, walking through forts and historic sites, and "getting my kicks on Route 66" made me feel more excited and prepared for my new role.
I wish I could have taken even more time! If you're able or have to bring a car for your internship, I totally recommend road tripping out to your internship site! Keep your budget in mind- you won't get your travel allowance until you start your internship, so you'll be paying out of pocket or on a credit card initially. The SCA handbook has tips on all this.
I arrived with a week to settle in and look at housing before my internship start date, which turned into a strange period of balancing sightseeing and stress. I mean, picture me sitting on a tram tour exploring downtown Santa Fe, while keeping an eye on my phone in case a landlord texts me about a showing... definitely didn't quite feel like a vacation! However, I did have a nice time checking out Santa Fe's incredible museums.
If you're in a traditional office internship and responsible for your own housing, know that you still aren't on your own! Be sure to ask your co-workers for advice- what's the best way to find an apartment? Will living outside town be a hassle in winter? How is traffic? etc. My office let me know that Craigslist is the top way to find a room, warned me about an apartment on the outskirts of town where I'd end up spending a lot of money on heat/ get my 2WD car stuck in winter, and gave me insight on neighborhoods. Ultimately, I was lucky to find a great shared house and am moving into my room now.
The first week of a new job is always stressful. So many introductions! So much information about the office! But everyone I work with is incredibly kind and expressed how happy they are for me to join them. Plus, my team took me out on the Santa Fe Trail to see historic sites in person before I start my more administrative role, which was great.
4. What's next?
I'm still settling into my internship and learning how I'll help make sign plans to increase awareness of National Historic Trails. But I'm looking forward to taking on more responsibility in my office and accomplishing my position objectives.
Photos from last week- I was pretty excited to get my
SCA gear and to move into my new room.
It's amazing to be living somewhere so different from my hometown of Orlando, Florida- and I don't just mean the humidity is lower! Every single day, I discover something new about New Mexico. Wait, there's a volcano just three hours away, and I can hike the rim and lava flows? South of Santa Fe are petroglyphs from 900 AD. When you order a burrito here, your options are "red, green, or Christmas [both red and green chile]." White Sands has astronomy nights and a concert series. Santa Fe has lots of festivals in the fall.
So much to learn, so much to see, and just a year to do it all! I'll write another blog post partway through my term. Until then!