Kristina had the chance to do Erasmus+ Internship at Mobility Section of International Relations Office for 3 months. She assisted in the administration of Erasmus+ mobility programme and before her departure she told us about her experience in Valencia.
Hi, Kristina. Tell us about yourself…where are you from, what do you study?
Hello. I am from Slovakia, in particular from the capital – Bratislava. I’m 25 years old. I studied and pursued my Bachelor’s degree in the field of International Economic Relations and then a Master in Economic Diplomacy at the Faculty of International Relations of the University of Economics in Bratislava, Slovakia. I finished my studies in June 2017 and after the internship at UCH-CEU I will be working in my country.
Why did you choose UCH-CEU for your internship?
Before I came to UCH-CEU, I had also another opportunity to do an internship placement in some other institution in the region of Toscany in Italy. However, after considering pros and cons of both options I decided for internship at CEU. First of all, I already knew Spanish habits, customs and culture since I did my Erasmus+ studies in Madrid two years ago.
Also the language was another important factor. I was practicing and learning Spanish for almost 10 years and this internship was a great opportunity for me to improve my skills even more, besides I was able to practice English as well.
Moreover, I considered it crucial to speak the language of the country I would be working in.
Then I had to consider the cost of living and I found Valencia region and Spain in general as affordable. Also as a previous Erasmus+ student, I was very interested to form part of the International Relations Office, because I was already familiar with the process. Then, the feeling of international students from the point of view of an exchange student was not unknown to me. I was very enthusiastic to apply for this kind of job and willing to help the students in their upcoming wonderful Erasmus+ experience and I did my best by all possible means by activities what I’ve been executing.
What attracted you to come to Valencia?
I actually visited the city few years ago, it was a very short visit, but I remembered the city as an impressing combination of modernism and history. I was very curious to discover the hidden parts of the city and the local history and to visit various cultural events, music festivals, museums, galleries. Moreover, I was consent about the mild and pleasant climate during autumn with slowly changing weather. Also the proximity of the seaside is an added value, it is nice to spend your free time after work or during the week-ends on the beach. Although the university is located in small village Moncada, it perfectly suited me, I really enjoyed to stay here. The advantage is that the city of Valencia is close and reachable by metro, so you can be in the city center in less than half an hour. In Bratislava I live on the outskirts of the city so I am used to live in quiet surroundings. Nevertheless, it fulfilled my expectations of cost of living, if we talk about renting the room in the shared flat and of course, low level of air contamination caused by car pollution.
Do you remember your first week at the Mobility Office?
Yes I remember that perfectly! My first day was also the first day for Incoming students where I participated in the organized visit of campus with the new coming international Erasmus+ students, during the Welcome Day. Everything was very new for me and day by day I was getting used to new processes and activities. Frankly, the positive attitude and the help from my phenomenal colleagues made everything easier for me.
What can you tell us about your life in Valencia?
During my internship I lived in Moncada, it normally took me around 15 minutes by walk to get to work. I had a chance to know one Spanish family which also lives in Moncada, I sometimes played with their two little boys and taught them English. I really enjoyed this kind of relaxing activity after work. I used to go to the local food market in Moncada, just to buy some good jamón, goat cheese, fruits and talk to local people. They are always very curious when some stranger is interested in local food specialties.
This internship was a great and enriching experience for me, I was learning everyday something new, I had to face new situations and I handled different queries in foreign language.
During first month, I visited mostly the city center of Valencia, for example I saw exhibitions of local painters (Sorolla, Valdés, Soledad Sevilla..) but also other expositions of international artists. I would recommend Centro Cultural Bancaja or Museum of Bellas Artes and Instituto Valenciano del Arte Moderno. In Valencia you can find a lot of culture and there is free entrance to the museums during the weekends! I would highlight also Museum Bombas Gens, which used to be a factory and afterwards it was renovated and transformed into the cultural institution with various expositions which is definitely worthy to visit. Worthy to visit is also Filmoteca – a good quality cinema which is screening various movies on different topics which is not so known. I should add some good shopping, in the area of Barrio del Carmen where all the vintage shops and cool stuff is located.
Did you have the chance to explore Valencia province and the surrounding?
Of course! I did some hiking. First one was an organized trip with one agency at Montanejos. I could enjoy the precious views whilst doing some sports and after the hiking I was swimming in the transparent waters of the river nearby giant rocks. This area was amazing and breathtaking. Another hiking trip was to natural park Sierra Mariola with 4 hours of steep walking. Honestly, I was extremely tired, but it was worthy because I almost touched the clouds in the altitude of approximately 1.000 meters above sea level with such a wonderful view of mountains and the area! During the trip I visited the village of Bocairent too, nice little and old city and Covets de los Moros, little caves and labyrinths where you have to try to find the way out by climbing and crawling in little corridors.
Any tip you would give other students who want to study or work abroad?
First of all, consider cost of living abroad because that is very important part, to be independent from the help from your parents. I was facing sometimes those problems, but you can cope with it, after some time dividing costs and trying to find some ways to improve the financial situation.
Secondly, learn very well the language of the country where you want to go to study or work.
Nothing can help you better to know the culture, customs, habits, and new people as knowing the language! I recommend it from my personal experience.
Nevertheless, the everyday life is so much easier in sense of arranging basic stuff. Afterwards there are companies which appreciate high language competence in the recruitment process of possible candidates for a good job position!
Thirdly and finally, take all your courage and do it! Arrange your things by yourself and be independent. That is a good lesson for your future life and you will learn that it is important not to take everything for granted, but to fight for it and work a lot with objective to achieve the best experience for you and your personal growth.