Melike Tuğba Dolu packed her bags two months ago and headed from Konya, Turkey, to Valencia – with a specific goal in mind: she came here to learn Spanish for her thesis in which she is writing about the Sud-Sud Cooperation based on Latin America. The student of International Business not only achieved her aim of learning Spanish, but also spent eight interesting weeks working in the Erasmus Office at University CEU Cardenal Herrera in Valencia. Before returning to her home country, Melike has told us about her internship, her “Fallas”- experience and other adventures she undertook during her stay in Valencia.
Merhaba, Melike. After two months working as an intern here at University CEU Cardenal Herrera it is time for you to say goodbye today…
Melike: That is true. Having lived and worked here in Valencia for two months, it really is a strange feeling having to say goodbye today. I enjoyed my stay here in Valencia a lot – my internship as well as the daily Spanish life, which I got to know quite well and which I will definitely miss. Most of all the great weather, the beach and all the friendly people here.
You arrived here in March – just in time for Valencia’s traditional celebration, “las Fallas”. A culture shock for you?
Melike: Indeed! I got here on the first of March – perfect timing for the “Fallas”. I have to admit that I had no idea what it was about, but everybody told me how lucky I was to be able to experience this unique celebration. People dancing, laughing and singing in the streets, spectacular parades and music everywhere – Valencia showed me its best side! Still, I did not really experience a culture shock because the city and its citizens have treated me so well, I felt home here right from the beginning.
One of your main intentions of coming to Valencia was to learn Spanish – have you achieved this aim?
Melike: I arrived here without any Spanish skills. However, as I am writing my thesis about the Sud-Sud Cooperation based on countries in Latin America, I wanted to learn some Spanish to understand the language of the nations I am investigating about. Is there a better way of learning a foreign language than to spend some time in a country where it is spoken? So, I decided to come to Valencia. Here at University CEU Cardenal Herrera I have worked in the Office of International Relations, which was perfect for me because I study International Business. The circumstances could not have been better to learn some Spanish: I have lived in a shared flat together with four Spanish people, who helped me with the language a lot. My colleagues here in the Erasmus Office, where I have worked, also tried hard to teach me some Spanish. I have appreciated that a lot!
Would you consider language barriers being one of the main challenges when spending some time abroad?
Melike: I think it depends on the country and on the mentality of its people. Here in Spain, it was absolutely no problem to come here without knowing any Spanish because the people I have met were so friendly, helpful and patient. My flat mates, my colleagues at work and all the other friends I made here have always helped me to improve my Spanish. I do not think this would happen in many other countries and I am really lucky to have experienced so much kindness.
Do you think your stay in Valencia has enriched you personally and professionally?
Melike: Definitely! Working in the Erasmus Office was very interesting for me – I was in contact with students from all over the world and it was quite exciting to see the cultural differences between them. German students, for example, often ask for very detailed information, whereas Portuguese students, for example, are satisfied with a general overview. It was quite interesting to analyse those ways of behaviour. My stay here, however, was not only an enrichment in a professional context, living in another country, getting to know a new culture and people is an experience you will certainly never forget. I can really only find positive words about my time in Valencia. The only negative experience was that my purse with my passport in it was stolen during the Fallas. But even that was quite interesting in the end – because it was my first time ever in a police station and quite an adventure.
Have you got your passport back in the meantime or will you just stay here in Valencia?
Melike: I wish I could. But I will go to the embassy in Barcelona before flying back to Turkey, where I will receive a document that allows me to fly home. It would be great to stay here longer, also because at home in Turkey there is an important exam waiting for me on Saturday. But at least, I am looking forward to enjoying good Turkish food again – that was probably what I missed most, even though I like Spanish food as well. But in general, I am really thankful for this unforgettable experience here in Valencia and I will certainly come back soon.