Patrycja, an architecture graduate from the UK, went on a three-month ErasmusPro placement to Seville in southern Spain. Her assignment with a Spanish architectural firm gave her an insight into the industry and the next steps she needs to take to further her career. She also enjoyed exploring Andalusia in her free time and learning some Spanish!
I applied for this placement because I have always wanted to live and work abroad, as well as learn a new language. I was encouraged by the warm climate as well as the opportunity to see some of the most famous and traditional architecture and events happening in the city. I prepared myself by doing some research about the place and my work placement in order to know a little bit more about what to expect.
Work hard, play hard
During my placement I had an opportunity to work in an architectural office on real-life projects in Seville. Some of the tasks I was given involved drawing scaled plans, making physical model or taking measurements on the site. The work placement was close to the city centre which allowed me to visit and see many monuments during my free time. I was part of the team that consists of three architects. Each day I would be given a new or different task to work on which kept me motivated throughout the placement.
I was very surprised to find that Seville had so many different cultural events happening throughout the year. I was lucky enough to experience events such as Carnival in Cadiz – the most famous Spanish festival, happening in the Andalusian region where I was doing my placement.
Adapt, learn, stand out
Moving to a city where English is not widely spoken, I had to use the local language in many situations.
My biggest learning experience and achievement during my placement was learning Spanish.
Three months doesn’t seem like a long time to learn a new language; however, I feel like after this short period of time, I can now understand some of the basic phrases and even have a small conversation when necessary. I believe that working in another country will make my CV stand out with a potential for a new career in the future. Some of the skills which I think I managed to take out from this international experience are independence, confidence, sense of adventure and open mindedness. I have been put into new situations that I have not experienced before and learnt how to adapt quickly in these cases.
Tips for those who dare
The experience I have gained during my placement will most likely help me with my ambition of becoming a qualified architect. The skills I gained are the ones that I believe every potential employer is looking for. Whether your placement is for a few weeks or a couple months long, it really does go quick, and one thing I would strongly recommend is to get out of your comfort zone and see what the new place has to offer. Be organised with your time and try to see as much as you can, whilst being focused on your work placement. Speak the local language whenever you can. Finally, be positive and enjoy what you do!
Moving to a new country, means that there will be difficult moments. Whether it’s missing the people you are used to seeing every day, the language, or just not being able to find your way around. The people you meet on your way will help you to settle down and feel like at home.
Patrycja’s placement was organised by RISE International, an international social enterprise based in London. ErasmusPro is a vocational education and training (VET) action within the Erasmus+ programme that supports placements abroad for apprentices and other VET learners. A placement can be from three to 12 months, with a VET provider or a company.
Taking part in an ErasmusPro work placement helps young people get a taste of their desired industry. It also serves as a brilliant opportunity to increase their work-readiness and employability skills by working with new people, communicating in different ways and being pushed outside their comfort zone.
Lisa Atamian, partnerships manager at RISE International, said:
“We often find students come back and they are a lot more confident, more independent, a lot better at communicating and it’s also raised their aspirations for the future.”
“A lot of our young people have never travelled abroad, so the experience and the confidence they gain from that is huge. Similarly, not all of them have had work experience before, so just going to work and finding out what that is like is really valuable as well in terms of preparing them for life after college.”
Youth story by Patrycja Smola, via RISE International
Interested in work placements overseas? Visit our Work abroad pages and have a look at what’s available!