Starting an internship abroad is likely to be different to when we start a job in our own country. When moving to Spain, there are several ideas that must be considered pre-departure as well as once settled down in Spain and ready to start the job.
1. ACOMMODATION: WHERE WILL I BE LIVING?
Always start arranging this before going to Spain, as it will give you more security when moving there. Start by asking the company whether they will help you find accommodation or whether they supply any. If they don’t, search all the options available. In Valencia, you might want to share an apartment with Spanish students to be more social, or maybe you prefer to live with a Spanish host family to immerse in the culture, or you might even want to live in a hostel. No matter where you’d prefer to live, do it in advance to avoid disappointment!
2. LOCATION: WHERE WILL I BE WORKING?
Remember to always check where the company is and never leave it until last minute! The last thing you want on your first day is to arrive late and look unreliable, so make sure to either look on a map or to ask the company how to get there the most efficient way possible. It is also a good idea to walk around the area the day before, hence you will know you’ll be at the right place and right time. This will also lower the nerves on your first day, as all you will have to worry about is meeting the people working there.
3. FAMILIARISATION WITH THE COMPANY
When you get there, it is more than likely that they will ask you whether you have checked who they are and what they do. Make sure you check their website to get an insight on their main purpose as well as their social media pages, to see what they have been keeping up with recently. This will also look good on you, as it will seem like you have taken initiative and care about having an understanding about them and becoming part of the company.
4. FAMILIARISATION WITH THE CULTURE
It is not only important to know what the company is about, but also the country or city’s culture. You should research what their usual traditions are, such as having a ‘siesta’, as well as what their gastronomy is like (here’s a starter pack: ‘horchata y fartons’, ‘churros con chocolate’, ‘tortilla de patata’, ‘paella’). This means that when you get to Spain, you won’t feel lost (or at least not as lost as you’d think) and you will be able to adapt more easily to their culture. It is also a good way to prepare yourself for all the habits that you will have to get used to as well as for all the new food you will have to eat! You can also research about cultural activities that you can do when in Valencia, and so when you meet everyone in the company you will also have a chance to ask them about it or about other alternatives.
5. ASK, ASK, ASK: IT DOESN’T HURT TO ASK
If you don’t ask, you won’t get. Start by asking about your conditions, such as working hours and income. You might also want to ask about things like whether they provide food or if you need to bring your own, or even about any holidays you’ll get (so you can arrange a cheap trip somewhere close to Valencia, or even catch a plane to the other side of Spain). When you know things like these, make sure you ask about your main role as an intern, and the tasks you will have to do- you don’t want to start a new job abroad and not enjoy what you do, as this will not be beneficial for your time there nor for the company. Of course, the days before you can also check-in with them, by letting them know you are to start and ask whether you will need to bring things like a laptop or any specific material.
6. YOUR TIME IS PRECIOUS, SO DON’T WASTE IT
You are in Spain to live a new experience, to learn and improve your Spanish and to immerse in a completely new culture. This means that there will be times when you will be out of your comfort zone, and when all you’ll want to do is go back home. However, don’t let these moments distract you from what you want to get out from living and working in Spain. You are not there for long, so make the most out of it! Here’s a tip: before moving out to Spain, note down what your main aim of what you want to learn or who you want to be when you finish your internship, and make sure you work towards it every day!
As you can see, preparation prior to departure is essential- from accommodation, to where the job will be, to what the company is like. However, even though you are moving to Spain to do an internship, it is equally as important to know about the country and its culture: at the end of the day you are going to live in Spain and you will not be working all day every day, so you should know what there is to explore to benefit from the whole experience.