She came from the Czech Republic to teach English in Valencia – Eva Englová has been working as an international intern for the International Relations Office at our University CEU Cardenal Herrera, she has been translating, interpreting – and given English classes to the teachers of our primary school. Studying Spanish and French at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, Eva’s language skills are enviable and make her a competent English teacher.
During her classes, Eva has not only taught grammar and vocabulary, but has also given her pupils an impression of her home countries – the Czech Republic and Scotland. A quiz about the countries’ history, geography, languages and famous inhabitants made her students learn about Scottish back pipes, the Velvet Revolution or the Czech sports number one, Ice Hockey. Eva is going to spend her summer in the Czech Republic before going back to Scotland, but before leaving Valencia, she has told us about her studies abroad, about homesickness and why her home country, the Czech Republic, is worth a visit.
Eva: Ahoj, Eva. You are our international intern coming from the Czech Republic. How come that one of your main tasks is teaching English to our primary school teachers?
Eva: Well, good question! It’s because I have been studying in Scotland, more precisely at the University of Glasgow, for 4 years now and so I came to work at University CEU Cardenal Herrera from a position of native English speaker. For this reason, I was asked to give classes and I am so glad for this opportunity. I really, really enjoyed the classes and I had very attentive and active students!
Studying Foreign Languages in a foreign country sounds very challenging to me. Had you not been afraid of mixing the languages?
Eva: Sometimes, I have this feeling that what I’m about to do is the right thing to do; which reassures me and I know everything will be ok. And this was the case when I was deciding about studying abroad. I’ve always enjoyed studying languages and I already spoke French so I didn’t see it as a problem. But of course, at the beginning, it was quite challenging because I was expected to have the same level of English as native speakers when I was writing essays and doing translations.
What are the positive aspects about studying abroad in general and studying in Scotland?
Eva: One of the best things about studying or even living abroad is that you see things from a different perspective. This makes you realize that things can be done differently and that there’s not necessarily only one correct way of being, doing something or behaving. And this makes you much more tolerant. I think everyone should go abroad for some longer period of time because it today’s world, tolerance is such an important quality to have!
As for studying in Scotland, I love the friendliness of Scottish people, their straightforwardness and a certain ‘roughness’ that makes them really honest and authentic. Another aspect related to the previous point is that the Scottish society is very tolerant towards minorities, other nationalities, different points of view etc. To this, add beautiful countryside, ancient castles, delicious whisky and you’ve found the perfect country!
Now, as you got to know a Spanish university – would you have chosen Spain as your place to study at?
Eva: First of all, I think it is very difficult to create an opinion about Spanish universities based on a private university like CEU since private and public universities tend to be quite different and also since University CEU Cardenal Herrera is, compared to my university, relatively new and small. But what I really like about the university here is the amount of practical training the students get. After all however, I would always decide to study in Scotland.
What were your expectations before you got here and how has it been like in reality?
Eva: I always thought that Spanish society is quite traditional and conservative in a sense of gender roles or religion and that it is quite disorganized. But I was really surprised in a positive way about the openness, diversity and friendliness of people here. I’ve met so many lovely people and I’ve already got used to the relaxed and laid-back Spanish lifestyle.
On a lighter note, I also thought that it was always sunny in Valencia but to my great surprise, I have experienced the heaviest downpour of my life here during Fallas. What a paradox, coming here from Scotland…
Teaching English, translating or interpreting – your internship has been quite varied. What aspect have you liked most about your internship here at our University?
Eva: So as you say, I had a variety of tasks, even though I spent the vast majority of my time translating. I really enjoyed doing translations, mainly from Spanish to English and Spanish to French, because I was able to work on complex texts and some very important documents, which was challenging and I got to learn a lot about how the university works. I also really really enjoyed teaching because it provided an opportunity to relax and focus instead of difficult legal and official language on more everyday and varied topics. I also got a chance to speak and listen a lot, something that you don´t get to do much when you´re translating. But the part of my work I liked the most was interpreting. I really wanted to gain some opportunity in this field because that is what I want to do in the future, and so when I was offered to interpret a parent-staff meeting between French and Spanish both live and via Skype, I was really happy. I just find interpreting very exciting because the flow of information is so fast and you have to stay alert but also because you can instantly see the fruit of your work when people can communicate with each other as if by magic.
I think my experience here was really enriching and even though there are some aspects that could be improved, I am very glad that I chose Valencia and this university for my internship.
Do you not know the feeling of homesickness?
Eva: Having lived some years abroad now, I do not really feel homesick anymore. I can actually call many places my home – the Czech Republic, Scotland or currently Spain. Of course it was quite difficult when I started my studies in Scotland. It was the first time for me not living at home anymore, staying for a longer time abroad and studying at the university. First, I did not know anyone but as I lived in student halls of residence, I soon got to know nice people and made friends. So when I returned from a Christmas holiday I spent in the Czech Republic to Scotland, it felt like coming home. I also had a Scottish boyfriend which made Scotland really feel home. The experience of studying abroad also helps me now – it makes living in a foreign country much easier.
Can you manage to keep in touch with your family and friends in the Czech Republic and Scotland when living here in Spain? What do you miss most about those countries?
Eva: Of course, it is not very easy to keep in touch with everyone, but my high school mates and I knew that we would all go to different places to study or work at – I chose to study in Scotland which does not mean that I do not come home or see my friends and family rarely. I think it would not be different if I studied in another town in the Czech Republic. What I miss a lot about the Czech Republic are my friends and family of course, and also the humor – I sometimes miss playing with the language and cultural background of your country and your mother tongue. What I miss most about Scotland is the way the people are – although I think Spanish people are really nice as well.
And what will you miss most about Spain?
Eva: The Spanish lifestyle – I was a bit worried before I came here that Spain would be a little chaotic and I would have struggles to adapt to the Spanish way of living. But I realized that it is not chaotic or badly organised – people are just much more relaxed, which I think is very nice. I think my stay here in Spain has changed my way of being and I really hope I can adapt this positive characteristic also when I go back to Scotland.
Most people do not know much more about your home country than the beautiful city of Prague. Why is the Czech Republic still worth a visit?
Eva: Of course, Prague is a good reason to travel to my country. There are so many old and beautiful buildings in our capital. However, there is much more to see in the Czech Republic – the lovely countryside with many castles, forests and hills. We often do canoeing in our rivers and make campfires afterwards – that is something you should try out. What I also really like about my country is that Czechs are very crafty, we are said to have the “Golden Czech Hands”.
I can really only recommend you to come to my home country – and also to my second home Scotland, of course!
Thank you Eva! We wish you all the best for your future – in the Czech Republic, Scotland or Spain!