Hello Cristina! You work with us in our Hospitality Office, can you tell us a little bit more about you, so we can get to know you better?
Hello my name is Cristina, I graduated two years ago and I arrived here by chance because I studied Architecture, and I did a couple of internships related to that field. I thought I would have to make a very big effort to get something stable in that field so because I had a friend that works here at University CEU Cardenal Herrera I got to know the possibility of working here. I didn’t apply specifically for a job in the International Relations Office, but I always liked to learn languages so I guess I had the chance that of one of my hobbies turned out really useful to find a job. The university presented a project and I decided to give it a chance thirteen months ago, so I have been working for this university since April 2015.
What do you do in the Hospitality Office?
I work in the Hospitality Office that belongs to the International Relations Office, and what we do here is try to help international students in their arrival here in Valencia. The students are usually really young, they have just finished High School, they can be scared at first, so we help them in the process. There is a lot of information when you get to a new place, especially when you are staying for so long, we try to help them in the transition.
What are the things that worry these students the most?
The things that they are more worried about is all the paperwork that needs to be done, the accommodation…all the things they need to make their arrival easier, giving them a phone card, transport card, Spanish courses, doing some activities that help other services like Campus Life, or the Language Service and that is pretty much what we do here in Hospitality.
We have some Spanish courses for the international students; can you explain how they work?
One of the most important services that we offer here in Hospitality is the Spanish course; we offer students different ways of learning Spanish, one of them is an online licence to learn a language so they can get prepared prior to their arrival. It helps them when they get here to feel more confident. There is also the Spanish summer course, which lasts four weeks from the end of July until the third week of August, and it is really positive because they have the possibility to get to know their classmates, get around the University and learn with less pressure.
Do you think all the students should go to the Hospitality office?
Initially all the students should come to Hospitality, because there is so much paperwork to do, too many things to be done when they arrive here, but some of the students feel that they need to come here more because of the physical distance from their home countries, and other students feel closer to the Spanish way of life or Spanish culture and they don’t feel like they need our services.
In any case, it is always positive to come because there are some things that you may not think of or some problems that you would not expect. This support is always useful to them, and it is proven because even in the later years we have had students that still come to ask questions to us, asking for information; our office is a reference point for the international students.
When they come to the Hospitality Office for the first time, what is the first problem that they want to overcome?
Most of the students come here because of the accommodation, even if they know that the first place they will choose upon their arrival may not be the place where they are going to stay for the rest of their studies. They want to have information about a place to get settled, some of them want to live in Valencia, so we show them all the places that can be interesting for them, and some of them want to live here in Moncada near the campus.
We saw some similar services in other universities but, is University CEU Cardenal Herrera pioneer in this kind of services?
The Hospitality is a new concept, other universities provide some information to international students, they provide support in some specific issues, but this Hospitality Package that we offer is a new concept, we needed to offer something to show them that transition from their home countries to here would be successful, that is why this university thought about this package. At present yes, other universities are getting inspiration from this service and we are very happy to exchange our know-how.
For the students that don’t know about this services, can you briefly explain how the services work?
Last year we started developing an online application for the Hospitality services, we needed to make some internal processes automatically and the results are really positive. Adaptation is always complicated and you realize lots of things that need to be improved, some ideas that you think are good and after it turns out they are not that good, but it has a really big potential for development in the services and information provided to the students. It saves work to us but it does more for the students because they know that they can manage all the services from the application.
They have access to all the information through this online application: it is the reference point when they want to know something related to their arrival, like the hotel night or taxi, but also other alternative issues: we created a forum so the students can communicate with each other to find flatmates, roommates, get to know each other and share their experiences. We will soon be adding new features to make payments via the application with credit card, like for the medical insurance. It makes everything easy for us internally but also of course for the students, for they have a place of reference for information.