Curiosity and an interest in the Spanish language and culture brought her to spend five months with us at University CEU Cardenal Herrera. Now, however, Celine’s internship is about to end. We are sad to say goodbye, but happy to hear that she has had a good time here in Valencia. Let’s hear what more she has to share about her internship experience!
Hello, Celine! Before we go any further, could you first introduce yourself: where are you from and what do you study? What do you do on your free time?
My name is Celine Stolk. I’m 22 years old and I come from a small town near Rotterdam in the Netherlands. I study European Studies in The Hague University of Applied Sciences. It’s a really broad education: for example, I have followed modules about culture, European integration, the European Union and its history, institutions, and politics. I have also followed some modules of marketing, but I chose to do my specialisation in politics.
The programme is completely in English, and in addition to this I have studied French and Italian. Last year I had to choose a minor and I decided to study Spanish, because I am quite good when it comes to languages, and I really like to learn and speak them.
On my free time I like to travel, listen to music, read books, play volleyball…
What motivated you to go abroad for your internship? Have you previously done a study exchange?
Two years ago I went to study in Padua, Italy, for 7 months for my Erasmus+ study exchange. Some people don’t know the city, but it’s really close to Venice and the university is quite famous in Italy. There I studied political science, which was a bit different from my studies in the Netherlands. Before the exchange I had studied Italian at my university, and I did an intensive Italian language course to prepare for my exchange.
This exchange was such a nice experience: I loved my time in Italy! I met so many people and made so many friends who I still am in contact with — I have visited some of them in Lisbon, Puerto, Antwerp… all kinds of places. It was the best time of my life. I had freedom, I could travel, I met so many people! I recommend all my friends to go study abroad, as it’s good for your personal development and you get in touch with so many nationalities and cultures and you learn so much about them. It’s time for self-enrichment, I think.
After this experience I wanted to have another, which is why I wanted to go abroad for my internship. As I said, I had recently studied Spanish and I thought that coming to Spain would improve my language skills. That was one of the major reasons why I decided to come to Spain. I wanted to learn more about the Spanish culture as I had never spent so much time here. This is my first international working experience, and the work is also related to my education.
How did you find this position at CEU UCH? What attracted you to it?
I found this internship online, after one student from my university who had previously interned here told me about it. I did some research in the Internet about the university and this placement, and what interested me the most was the variety of tasks described in the offer: I was not going to be doing only one thing here.
I really wanted to find an internship abroad in an international work environment: that was also one of the requirements for my internship, as doing an internship is mandatory for me. I wanted to become a member of an international team and to learn how to use a foreign language while working.
And of course it was attractive that the placement was here in Spain! I was really curious about Valencia.
What has your work as an intern been like?
I work here at the Faculty of Law, Business, and Political Science. I have had all kinds of duties, but my main task has been to translate documents, such as study guides, teaching materials, internship agreements…
Research has also been one of my tasks. For example, I have researched universities in different countries to see how many students they have and if they have similar programmes in law and political science and if these programmes could be linked to the ones here at CEU UCH: if it would be possible to sign study exchange agreements. It was a really interesting thing to do.
Also, I got to assist at international events. One of those events was an international congress that took place in Palacio de Colomina in the city centre. There I had to assist where I could, doing many things. But it was interesting as a lot of international speakers attended, from Chile, Mexico, Morocco… For me it was the most interesting thing to be there and to be a part of it, to hear what all those people had to say on the topic — which was international law. It was maybe the highlight of my internship.
Was there anything that you found challenging?
What was challenging from the day one was the Spanish language. Sometimes it was hard to understand people as they spoke really fast, but it was not really a problem. What was harder was responding to people in Spanish, as I didn’t have such a big vocabulary, which was sometimes a problem.
But I think that I have improved a lot. In the beginning I didn’t even know how to construct sentences and I was just saying separate words, but now I’m already having conversations in Spanish! What really helped me was living with Spanish roommates, as I had to speak Spanish with them.
Tell us about one more highlight of your internship!
I really liked the beginning of the internship when we had the introduction week for new students. It was very hectic and chaotic, but it was nice to meet the other interns and to also meet international students.
Have you liked living in Valencia? Do you think it is a good city for students?
I love the city. Before coming here I had never visited Valencia before and I didn’t know so much about it. But now I think that it is the best city in Spain, for me.
I like that Valencia has such a beautiful old city centre. I live close to Russafa which is my favourite place in the city. And, I really love the Valenbisi! It’s really Dutch of me to have a bicycle here and I’m really happy to have one, even if it’s not my own. I cycle everywhere — to the centre, the City of Arts and Sciences, the beach, the Turia Gardens…
The city has all the good aspects: nice climate and weather, nice people, good food… I’m really happy to have done my internship here. I recommend the city to everyone. It’s not too big, but not too small either, and it’s nicely located so you can visit more places from here.
You are returning to the Netherlands soon. What are your plans for the future? Do you think you will be returning to Valencia one day?
Yes, unfortunately I have to return to the Netherlands soon. I will miss the nice weather that is about to start again! I would have liked to stay here in summer to see how it is then.
As I return I will be graduating. After, I would like to work, to find a job in the Netherlands or somewhere else. I have to save some money and to gain some working experience. And maybe one or two years later I want to do a Master’s degree and study international relations, globalisation, and migration. I am still considering whether to do it in the Netherlands or abroad.
I am sure that I will come back here — maybe this summer already!
To finish, what tip would you give other students who want to study or work abroad?
The best tip I can give is to prepare well. Prepare to adjust. And, if you are planning to go somewhere like Spain or Italy, you should start learning the language. For me it was very helpful to know it before coming and then to continue improving my skills here.
Another tip is to travel as much as possible. During my stay here I have made trips to Madrid and Granada, and I have travelled around Valencia, too. In this way you can explore the country even more and to learn more about the people and the culture.