María Aurora is a 21-year-old Valencian student who is currently doing her 4th year in the Veterinary Medicine faculty of the CEU. Smiling, open-minded and self-confident, she seems to be the typical international student that employers are looking for.
Hi María, before all I have to tell you that I’m a bit surprised, I was expecting to do this interview in Spanish but I now realize that you speak English as well, where does it come from?
Hmm, if you say so … I think that this is mainly because I love languages and travelling so it may help a bit. The other thing is that, for sure, I’m quite familiar with English because of my repeated stays in England or in the United States of America!
Okay, so you seem to be keen on travelling. Could you tell us a bit more about your travelling experiences?
Since I was fifteen, I have been travelling every year for one month; I think that travelling allows you to open your mind to the rest of the world. I have started with the USA during three years, for one month every summer in an international student’s exchanges program that allowed me to go and live with an American Family. I am quite sure this is where I learned my English because when you are with English speakers only, you have to adapt yourself; this is part of the trip!
Then, during my second grade of Veterinary Medicine I also got the opportunity to go to Manchester to do a practical internship in a Clinical Hospital.
More than learning English in a working environment, this internship allowed me to realize that I didn’t want to work in a clinical environment but in the veterinarian research.
This helped me a lot choosing specialization options for the following year by already knowing what I don’t want to do.
For the future I’m still planning to travel, for example, this year I’m intending to go on an Erasmus year but nothing concrete for the moment …
For sure, it seems that you love travelling, but do you think that it is also important for your professional profile?
Of course, yes! I think that it opens you every door for the future, it makes you different from others and more attractive because not everyone is able to speak different languages or to have a global point of view of his or her work.
I think that here in Spain, in the past young people did not like to travel so much but things are going better now. Indeed, I think that people still have their fears of learning something new, of not being able to learn it but I think that everyone should try to go abroad and learn different things even if they are not planning to work in other countries.
For example, I don’t know if I will work abroad in the future but for sure I will not stop travelling because I don’t want to close any door to me, and moreover I think that this way I keep improving myself !
So María, we could see that you have been travelling a lot on your own for your personal experience, but do you think that the CEU, and more particularly the Veterinary Medicine Faculty, makes students want to go abroad and gives them the opportunity to do so?
Yes, I think so! For example I can easily remember the first time we went to the first veterinarian class, our teacher told us something like “Keep in mind that maybe 80% of you won’t be working here in Spain”. At start we were a bit astonished and dubitative but now I realize that our professor was right. You have to think globally, especially in the research sector in which our teachers showed us (partly by giving us mainly English written documents) that researches are conducted all over the world and for worldwide matters.
So yes, I think they greatly encourage us to go on travelling but you know that it’s mainly a personal choice so you and only you can make the decision. In this case you can tell your teacher, the administration or even the Dean that you want to go abroad and they will help you as much as they can.
Indeed, I told them my desire to go abroad and they gave me the opportunity to do so. Then you know it can work for everyone!
Do you mean that you got the opportunity to go abroad thanks to the CEU? Can you tell us a bit more about this experience?
Yes I have been to some seminars and conferences with the CEU during the four years I spent in this Veterinary Medicine degree.
It all started in my second year in this faculty during which one of my teachers offered me the chance to participate in a conference in the Sanitarian and Scientific Congress of the CEU, here in Valencia. So, I started to make researches with her and her research group for this conference and then, once it had been achieved, I have continued working with them.
So, last year when they asked me if I would like to go to Porto for an English congress on Freshwater Turtles conservation… I said YES!
This was such a great experience that allowed me, first of all, to learn some specific English vocabulary, to open my eyes to different ways of considering this science depending on the country, to meet people from different countries sharing the same interests and, of course, to know better the worldwide reality of Freshwater Turtles conservation.
And then, still working with this research group, this year they offered me the opportunity to attend a conference, as representative of our Faculty, in the International European Congress for Veterinary Medicine students in Brussels; of course, I didn’t miss such a great opportunity!
It has been one of my greatest professional and personal experiences because it allowed me to really understand the place of the Veterinary Medicine within the European Union and to better apprehend the global issues that our discipline is currently facing. This congress also allowed me to compare the formation differences between European countries and now I can say that our University is generally doing “more” than some other European Universities in terms of practical formation, hours spent in class, infrastructures, etc. …
Anyway, this is to say that this kind of experience gives you the opportunity to make yourself a more global opinion, to learn how different cultures react to the problem they are facing and even to meet people that could be useful contacts for your future professional life !
So, by the end you become… different, but in a good sense of course! (Laugh)
So, generally, we can say that you recommend students to come to the CEU?
Yes, I mean, I do really like this University, it is quite small but offers a lot of advantages.
This is to say that it is more familiar and you can know personally every Teacher, Professor, classmate and Dean so that it gives you a lot more opportunities.
And for what I have seen during the international conferences I have been to, the veterinarian faculty of the CEU seems to be among the top of European Universities for what concerns the practical formation, infrastructures and expeditions such as the one we did during our 3rd year: the visit of one of the most famous milking farm of Spain.
Thank you for sharing this with us María, and before the end of this Interview, do you have any advice to give to our new foreign students?
Well… for sure, in Valencia they should visit the city center, the beaches and try the famous Valencian Paella!
Then, I know it’s a controversial topic and it is up to everyone to like it or not … but I think they should try to see a bullfight, at least to make their own opinion on this subject and because it’s part of the Spanish culture.
Then, I should advise them to visit Spain and cities like Barcelona, Madrid or Valencia but also the Basque Country or Galicia because they are at the same time all so different but part of Spain !
Finally I think they should make their own experience, find their own favorite bars to go out, places that suits best their expectations.
So … Keep being open-minded; meet some Spanish people and, above all, HAVE FUN!
Thank you very much María! Do you want to add anything else before this ends?
Hmm … YES, another advice maybe! Catch every opportunity that comes to you but, most importantly, don’t be scared of travelling and learning new things because this is, in my opinion, the best way to learn about yourself and others.