Learning the subtleties to my workplace culture has been a crucial aspect of becoming more comfortable and productive in my placement. During the first week things such as when to have lunch and when it was appropriate to socialize were subjects I extensively internally debated before eventually risking a choice. Contrast that to now and things have much changed. Now I have an understanding of when lunch is, the proper length and steps to take in order to notify my co-workers that I am taking that break. Furthermore, socializing is something I feel very comfortable in now. Beyond simply knowing my co-workers better there is also a workplace culture aspect that had to be understood before I could properly interact with them without being intrusive and annoying. Understanding the casual nature of my workplace was a key first step. My first several days I followed the high school model of head down and no talking. Slowly I began to learn that not only was talking allowed but encouraged. These social interactions are also between every tier of the program. From our program manager to myself, the intern at the lowest level, there are always opportunities to connect to my co-workers on a personal levels.
Beyond workplace culture there are other cultures that I interact with on a daily basis that I have expanded my knowledge and understanding of. Upon entering the placement I had little understanding of the differences between the Spanish speaking countries in the Americas. From my co-workers I have learned some of the significant differences in their cultures including foods and accents. Understanding culture beyond them speaking Spanish is crucial in an area of Detroit that, while called Mexicantown, is filled with Spanish speaking persons from around the globe.