Erasmus+ helps students to acquire that all-important work experience. Emily Jordan from Lancaster University is one such student. Now in her second week of a six-month work placement in Spain, she gives us a sneak peek into her new life as a marketing assistant.
"This is actually my second Erasmus+ placement as I studied at the University of Deusto in Bilbao for five months. Now I'm carrying out a traineeship in Ronda, Spain, working for Entrelenguas, a company which offers Spanish language courses and cultural tours and activities. I found my placement through university connections; a friend of mine was an intern at Entrelenguas last year and really recommended it. I sent my CV and we arranged a Skype interview which was a little nerve-wracking, as the interview started in Spanish, but happily I secured the placement.
I've settled in really well. My work is very varied, from translating and proofreading company literature, writing blog articles, contacting agencies, assisting with social media through to interpreting during tourism activities.
Speaking the lingo
I started Spanish as a beginner at university alongside taking courses in business and management. After a year, my Spanish wasn't that good and I found speaking it almost impossible. However, after a semester at a Spanish university, speaking became a lot less daunting, as it became more natural as part of my daily life. I’m now working mainly in Spanish, talking to Spanish clients on a daily basis. All of our internal communication are in Spanish and I only use English when talking to English clients, translating or writing blog posts.
My new routine
8.45am: Mondays are always an early start for us, as we have a meeting first thing to set our goals and clarify our tasks for the week. It is like a family here at Entrelenguas, even though we work hard, there's always a great atmosphere and camaraderie in the office. I've had to get used to the early mornings, as 9am lectures may be optional, but meetings are compulsory!
There are around ten people in the team at the moment, as well as three other interns from England and France. Spanish is the language spoken in the office, and our managers tell us off if we use our native languages, although if we don't understand something we can clarify in English!
11.00am: I have been assigned several projects to work on so I dedicate my time to contacting German clients who could be interested in our courses, writing emails and setting reminders to follow up in a week's time.
I work until 2pm everyday, which is Spanish lunchtime, so I normally either go out for lunch (usually tapas with the other interns) or cook something at home. My evenings are varied, so far I've been to a language intercambio, a tapas night and a theatre improvisation night.
9.00am: It's Cake Tuesday! Entrelenguas has a weekly tradition in which every member of the team takes it in turns to bake a cake. Maybe I will make a typical English Victoria sponge next week!
11.00am: Today I finished a blog post titled '5 easy listening podcasts to learn Spanish' which was super interesting to research and gave me ideas for my own future learning. I usually write in both English and Spanish, with a native speaker checking over my Spanish version just in case.
9.30am: Time for my bi-weekly Spanish class with the other interns who are offered lessons as an in-kind payment for our work. It is always entertaining, and I find myself amazed that there is always more to learn about the language but I know my Spanish has already really improved.
2.00pm: The company allows us discounted rates on their tours in Ronda, so this afternoon the interns took full advantage to enjoy a wine-tasting experience, which was great fun. Students and customers mingled and were given a tour of the vineyard, tasted various wines and treated to a homemade paella, cooked overlooking the incredible Puente Nuevo gorge.
8.45am: Another team meeting, in which we track our progress of the tasks we were assigned on Monday.
1.00pm: End of the working week for me! I work Monday-Thursday (a total of 16 hours per week) which gives me plenty of time to explore the city and take advantage of weekend travel opportunities.
One thing I prefer about working over studying is that you don't take your work home with you and are able to enjoy your free time so I've been exploring Ronda; its museums restaurants and countryside.
Entrelenguas arranged a hike for students this morning so all the interns went. We had a great time; it was such a beautiful day. We were encouraged to speak in Spanish and mingle and as there was a mix of levels, there were some interesting conversations!
Today another intern and I went on a day trip to Malaga. We had heard it was a bit of an underrated city, many preferring to visit the nearby beach towns instead. We visited the Alcazaba and the Castillo, which had incredible views over the city, and finished off with a delicious lunch overlooking the harbour. Next weekend we plan to visit Seville.
It's a wrap
The week may be over, but this is just my beginning. Without a doubt Erasmus+ is changing me. My experience is not only helping me to develop cultural awareness but giving me new skills that I think will help me in my search for a job once I graduate. I am learning to deal with problems in a foreign country which is helping to develop my confidence and I feel much more able to adapt to new situations."