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All Abroad! New York insomnia

Political science master student Anna Warrington at the University of Copenhagen arrives in the city that never sleeps

Flashing lights, people walking down the streets in tailored suits and a serious look on their faces rushing towards the subway.

New York City is known as the city that never sleeps. So would I, a new intern in the big apple, ever sleep?

In one month, I went from being a Political Science Master student riding my bike around the cozy streets of historic Copenhagen to being a part of Midtown’s rush-hour, clinging to my cup of coffee and all the butterflies of new beginnings.


Anna Warrington is an intern at the Intergovernmental Support Division for UN Women

Leaving my comfort zone

I boarded my flight towards New York on a cold morning in the middle of April. I had said goodbye to my loved ones, and my luggage was packed with what I hoped would be deemed appropriate for the dress code of UN Women.

Photo: Courtesy of Anna Warrington

The whole flight my head was swirling with a thousand thoughts, and I could barely focus on the in flight entertainment, where the ads for this month’s movies kindly let me know that – as fate would have It – there was a comedy out called ‘The Intern’. Oddly, I began feeling calmer in my seat.

The first few weeks were a whirlwind. I ended up tearing up behind my sunglasses in the middle of Brooklyn because I got lost for the 7th time that day. Everything remotely similar to my comfort zone at home was no longer there.

Working for the UN

Reminding myself that ‘good things never came from comfort zones’ – a message that social media seems so eager to tell us all, I dried my eyes and got back up. And who would have thought, the unfamiliar streets quickly began to feel familiar.

Photo: Courtesy of Anna Warrington

I now work fulltime as an intern in the Intergovernmental Support Division for UN Women. I heard horror stories from enthusiastic interns who arrived at the internship of their dreams –to find that they were collecting mail and brewing coffee for the next 5 months. However, I collect and process data to assist in compiling an analysis of gender perspectives integrated in intergovernmental processes of the UN.

I’m fortunate to benefit from the analytical experience from political science and continue to learn as our team reviews the progress and challenges through quantitative and qualitative methods. The UN is a truly magnificent hub of activity where meetings are held, deals are negotiated and secrets are kept.

Overcoming adversity

As a political science nerd and former active Model UN’er, it was amazing to attend the first meeting at headquarters in the Economic and Social Council where I take notes.

Photo: Courtesy of Anna Warrington

The majority of those who attend the meeting probably thought about whether they could make their lunch dates later or if they should have used the bathroom. I, on the other hand, was over the moon with excitement.

My journey from Copenhagen to New York was not easy. My studies were delayed several times due to my congenital hip injury and the 9 surgeries that followed. Thus, most of my exam papers are written collaboratively with prescription pain medication. So, it took a while to get here, but that’s okay. Life rarely follows a linear path.

Enjoying the good things in life

The fairytale lifestyle of endless cocktails, empty taxis and affordable Manhattan apartments from Sex and the City may be far from the truth. Although my commute every morning compels me to share my personal space with hundreds of New Yorkers in the subway, and makes it all worth it.

Photo: Courtesy of Anna Warrington

The thing about New York City is that it’s alive. The intoxicating vibrant atmosphere can be felt on every street corner, and everybody looks like they have somewhere important to be.

I am passionate about making the most of my internship and learning as much as possible. I may very well be a tiny piece of the puzzle, but I want to do my part for UN Women while I’m here. As students, we often get caught up in the many expectations that we face. We all have to succeed, and we should have done it yesterday. But guess what? I also want to drink champagne on a rooftop bar overlooking the city’s busy streets and have interesting conversations with people from all over the world at a delicious brunch.

Remember to sleep, enjoy and learn. Don’t worry, you’ll get there.

Follow Anna Warrington on Instagram and keep up-to-date with her adventures on her blog.

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