SAI Summer Intern’s First 2 Weeks
July 18, 2013

Nicole was selected as our SAI Summer Intern. Below she talks about her first 2 weeks at SAI’s main office in Sebastopol, California.

I nervously began my journey up to the quaint town of Sebastopol, CA during the recent West coast heat wave—100 degrees at 6 pm. I had literally been crossing the days off on my wall calendar, anxiously waiting to leave my mundane part time jobs, to head up to the North Bay area to work for SAI.

I don’t have a car, so my mom came to pick me up and we drove up in the 100-degree heat. On our way up, we stopped for dinner. According to, this restaurant boasted home made Italian pasta—something I could not pass up. We eventually arrived in Santa Rosa where I would be staying. My cousin had graciously welcomed me into her “bachelor-ette pad” for the month.

The next morning I bought my bus pass and started my trek from Santa Rosa to arrive in Sebastopol by 9 am. The bus would get me to Sebastopol ten minutes late, or one hour early. Seeing as this was my first day, I opted for one hour early. The bus ride took approximately 30 minutes and was anything but boring. Lets just say there were many lively conversations around me, including a war veteran who was ranting about his desire to grow his hair past his waist (I could not help but notice he was balding).

Once in Sebastopol, I grabbed an iced coffee and sat inside an air-conditioned café—the temperature outside was ridiculous for 8 am. By 9 I had arrived at the SAI office and was kindly greeted by a few staff members chatting near the entrance. As if I was not already eager enough to be joining the SAI team, the modern design of the office and friendly staff slapped a permanent smile on my face. I was shown around the office and warmly introduced to everyone who was present—including the office dog, Gaja. I was shown to my desk and given my first task of reading every single word of the SAI Florence handbook. My job was to look for error and suggest areas in need of improvement.

I am now a week and a half into my internship and I could not be happier. I am really enjoying the family environment of the company; I was unaware of the family owned and operated nature of SAI. I now look forward to our lively lunch hour, where most of the staff gathers in the fully functioning kitchen for food and conversation.

One experience that has been less pleasant caused by my luck with accidents. I was preparing to take a cold shower to escape the heat in a bathroom where Moroccan oil—for your hair—had been spilled on the ground. Of course I managed to slip on the oil and hit the top of my head on the bathtub. It was incredibly painful, but I didn’t think I needed medical attention. I woke up the next morning incapable of moving my neck. I went to the bathroom to brush out my hair and noticed my scalp was numb to the touch of the brush. I was home alone, so I called a cab and went to the ER. I was diagnosed with a neck sprain and cranial contusion—which is the fancy way of saying I bruised my skull and potentially my brain. The doctor sent me home telling me to rest, take Tylenol, and to keep an eye on my pupils and eye functions.

When I told the SAI team about my injury Monday morning, they were all more than accommodating. Denise—sister of the owner—insisted I trade my air mattress for a real mattress she had been lending to her niece Micaela, who is also part of the SAI team. Needless to say—everyone has been very sweet and made me feel comfortable and cared for during my injury.

My daily tasks have become less eye straining since the first day—lately I have been entering course descriptions into the online course catalog. With most of the courses I find myself saying, “wow, I would love to take this class” or “I should totally study at this school”. I am constantly being reminded of my passion for travel and education, and the importance of combining the two into the study abroad experience.

I have really enjoyed the time I have spent here and I understand why employees seem enthusiastic about the work they do. It is a really great environment to work in. I look forward to what is to come—hopefully no more injuries!


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