I started thinking about this internship in last year’s March, as I was already doing my internship at ŠKODA AUTO – International Marketing, where my main task was communication with importers and preparation of materials for the Marketing Round Table, where the Marketing Directors, including the Spanish one, regularly meet. I made a lot of effort to get this internship abroad and I waited for the final confirmation for months, but thanks to my department’s immense supports, I was able to start my internship I had been dreaming of in September 2011.
The “adventure” began with the first concerns about the accommodation, as I was informed that accommodation similar to our student’s dorms could cost even EUR 1000 a month. Later I found out that in Barcelona, the usual way of living is shared housing, where you pay the rent for one room and then use the shared facilities, such as the living room and the kitchen. I began searching some two months before departure, but out of the tens of emails written, I got only about 5 replies (the Internet does not come as natural in Spain as it does in the Czech republic). Shortly before the departure, I got into a state of nervousness, so I, without hesitation, called one ad. At that moment, the only Spanish sentence I was capable of saying was “Hola, por favor hablas inglés?” – “No”, so Google translator came in handy and eventually we made an agreement with a Spaniard that I would visit the apartment on the day of my arrival. I have to say, that my Spanish skills from my secondary school were stone dead, but as I wanted to know some basics, I did not hesitate and went self-teaching over the course of summer. I will go into detail about me standing at the airport with two suitcases and no idea where to go. The apartment I mentioned earlier worked out fine and I have to say I had a piece of bad luck in all my good luck: The accommodation was really astounding, in a newly built house, with an on-suite bathroom and a very nicely furbished room. On the other hand was a very complicated flatmate (36 years of age).
One rarity: you are paying EUR 400 for one room and you want to invite your parents over for just three nights, even though you are staying for a good few months. And she tells you that just one person might come, as her flat is not an immigration camp. If there were anyone contemplating going for this internship, I would definitely not recommend living with the flat’s owner (we know about the Catalans that they are a bit sensitive around money - skinflints, as we would say, and I was not the only one to have been robbed of quite a few tens of Euros at the last stage of my internship). Nevertheless, I appreciated my clean housing, because when I visited other apartments, I was shocked. Spain has a lot of houses looking all romantic from the street, but they are very dirty inside, the apartments stink and are very dark, with a window being far from commonplace. Don’t expect anyone in the city to speak English with you. You can hope for Spanish (the other official language is Catalan, which, for me, was very different and I did not understand it). The company where I work has, luckily, Spanish for its official language, but there are enough companies using just Catalan.
The company’s working hours are usually all-day-long, for me it meant 9 hours a day, with an hour’s lunch break. If I were to be honest, I would say that the work morale is like a competition of who goes home latest => works hardest and thus has a chance of promotion. Therefore I would not like to talk about the work’s efficiency. There were no spare time activities, which was why I went one day to an Erasmus meeting, where were some 200-300 students and interns and this way I solved my spare time problems.
Speaking of my colleagues - they helped me a lot with my Spanish, tolerated my beginnings and would always explain or translate anything to me. The internship took place mostly in Spanish, I used English just the first couple of days - weeks. From what I have seen, I would say that Spaniards generally do not have good English skills. Overall, the relations are great and friendly, the open office has a very welcoming atmosphere. As an intern, I was given a desk with a computer (a bit archaic), and also the possibility to use the office equipment and an extern card, where I every day receive a lunch allowance of EUR 5 (the prices of lunch are usually EUR 5-EUR 7).
Work wise, I was very satisfied and the internship fulfilled all my expectations. It was on the one side because the marketing department had some 6-10 employees, which allows me to look into various aspects of marketing, on the other side it was also thanks to my working load. I receive most of my tasks for my internship manager, thanks to whom, in my opinion, was my internship a very useful experience for my future. She has also experience from abroad, so she is not a typical mañana person. I sometimes collaborate also with other colleagues. But any other issues, or benefits, which I know from my own experience work in the Czech republic (help with setting up your Internet connection, phone, giving you a lift to the airport, finding accommodation, orientation in the city) - everything is done in a sort of DIY way - so I would definitely not recommend Spain to someone who cannot stand on their own two feet. The faster an the better you will be able to cope, the more possibilities you will have.
Barcelona is one of Spain’s most expensive cities, more expensive even than Madrid, as it is a tourist destination. You will have to count with high living cost. Barcelona is a beautiful city - with its Gaudi and everything around him - Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló or Park Güell, FC Barcelona and the beautiful beaches and everlasting sunshine... but also a very dangerous city - prostitution, drugs, theft... also this happens on its streets, sadly, rather often.
I see my internship abroad as priceless experience, which brought me a lot both professionally and personally. I would like to tell you that nothing in life comes for free and if you have an aim in your life, go for it and never turn back before the first obstacle and never give up after your first failure!!! There are still people, who are able to appreciate your effort, focus and diligence! Sometimes I would hear questions like: “Is it worth it, sitting in the office till the evening for 50 crowns?” It is true, that my internship was one of the time wise more demanding, but if we really want to achieve something in our lives, we cannot just count time as money, trust me, that one day it may pay back many times... and vitally - There is no one out there waiting for you!
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me.
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