By Jessica Thomson, Outgoing Erasmus+ Traineeship Student
Hi, my name is Jess and I am a French and Spanish student here at the University of Aberdeen. I am currently two thirds of the way through my year abroad, and am writing from my placement in Spain. As I my degree is joint honours French and Spanish, my year abroad consists of a semester in a French speaking country and the other semester in a Spanish speaking country. In this article, I am going to tell you about my experience finding my placement here in Spain, and give you my advice and tips for undertaking an Erasmus+ Traineeship!
Finding a placement
When I first started looking for what I was going to do during my year abroad in the November of the year before, I was really nervous. For me the year abroad seemed so far away when I started at uni, and suddenly it was upon me and so real, and I had no idea what I wanted to do! As I started to look through all the information on myAberdeen (the uni add Go Abroad to your course list which is super helpful) I realised I didn’t want to study at a University abroad. I still have no idea what career path I want to take after uni, only that I don’t want to be a teacher, so this shut off the TEFL and British Council teaching placements too. As these are the two most common options for your year abroad, I felt daunted faced with finding a placement for myself. However, my go abroad tutor was so helpful, and directed me to the part on the Go Abroad page with links to potential Independent plans, and one of the first companies I came across was a Spanish school in Ronda called Entrelenguas – which I would then discover it is much more than just a school! I got in touch through their website, and they were super enthusiastic and friendly, and we set up a Skype call. If you choose to undertake an Erasmus+ Traineeship, be prepared for an interview through Skype in the language of that country! My interview with Entrelenguas went really well, although I was a little nervous, they made me feel so comfortable, and they offered me the placement. I was all set!
Preparing for the move
The first thing I did after securing my placement was get in touch with the Erasmus team to apply for the Erasmus+ Funding for Traineeships, everyone on the Erasmus team at Aberdeen was really helpful and I got my funding sorted out really quickly. As when I was getting ready for my move to Spain I had already spent five months in France, I was definitely more prepared. For me packing for five months in one suitcase is really hard, but I definitely realised you need a lot less clothes than you anticipate! Both times I made sure I had photo copies of all my important documents, such as your passport, your student card, your EHIC card, just in case (God forbid) you lose any of these whilst you are away, and also I printed out all the fully signed copies of my Erasmus+ Traineeship paperwork. Although I didn’t do this myself, I would definitely recommend getting a Monzo card. These cards are perfect for travellers as there are no fees at cashpoints, and it gives you the best exchange rate wherever you are – Monzo is perfect for students that will be spending time in more than one country because it means you don’t have to apply for a bank account in two different countries, which involves a lot of paperwork!
I am spending my semester in Spain working at a company called Entrelenguas, which is in Ronda, in the Malaga province. They are a cultural hub for travellers and locals, and they offer Spanish classes, and organise tours and activities, and also cultural events, all with the philosophy of sustainable tourism. I am one of four interns, and I am one of the members on the marketing team. My typical daily tasks consist of responding to emails, translating emails and documents from Spanish to English, and working on a weekly blog post. I also research potential partners and collaborations for the company to broaden the network. All of the staff here are lovely and it’s the perfect work environment for me – relaxed but productive. I work in a mix of Spanish and English, but the office language is always Spanish. I work 16 hours per week, plus 2 Spanish classes a week that we are offered as an in-kind payment for our work. For me this is the perfect workload, it gives me time to relax and explore Ronda. Being only one of the four interns is great, it means that there is always someone to hang out with, and someone to relate to about being a foreigner abroad! We spend our free time discovering Ronda, it is a beautiful town in the mountains, and also have visited some of the major cities of Andalusia as Ronda is really well situated for travelling! Entrelenguas has a really nice community surrounding it, made up of locals, students and expats from all over the world, so it’s a great opportunity to meet like-minded, laid back people from everywhere! To really make the best of your time abroad I would definitely advise befriending the locals. They are the perfect people to show you all the best spots in the town and avoid the tourist traps, and the most authentic way to pick up the local slang, and of course they encourage you to speak and practise the language! At Entrelenguas they also give us the opportunity to go along on their tours which is super cool, and gives me the chance to learn even more about the culture and history of Ronda from a local whilst interacting with the travellers. My favourite so far has been wine tasting in the vineyard, it was an amazing afternoon spent trying the different local wines under the beaming sun with a view of the gorge – que buena vida!
Traineeship vs. study exchange
Choosing between a traineeship and a study exchange is a very personal thing, it’s all down to your personality and what works best for you. For me, because I still don’t know what career I would like in the future, I saw it as not only an opportunity to further my knowledge of the language and culture, but also to try out potential future careers or career fields. I also think it’s a great way to develop professional skills and of course a traineeship abroad looks really impressive on your CV, especially in an increasingly globalised world, with almost every business having branches abroad, and even more businesses made up of a workforce from all over the world. It shows you are comfortable in a multicultural setting, and that you are adaptable and open-minded. Furthermore, a traineeship abroad also provides professional contacts for you, and potential job opportunities or networks in the future. Also, you might be lucky enough to find a paid placement – a little extra cash is always a bonus!
For me, the Erasmus+ traineeship scheme is the ideal way to spend the year abroad! I am thoroughly enjoying my time here at Entrelenguas, I would highly recommend checking them out as a potential for your traineeship if you study Spanish, you can get in touch here! I hope my tips have helped you with your plans for your year abroad and have given you an insight into the Erasmus+ Traineeship scheme, good luck with it all!