Dani is a student who came to Valencia with a program specifically for student athletes. He is from near Palm Springs, California, and plays soccer at the University of Saint Katherine in California, where he studies Kinesiology. He spent 4 weeks here in Valencia this summer working at an internship. Here’s what he had to say:
1. What brought you to Valencia?
I came with a group of students who were all athletes. It was basically an abbreviated study abroad, to get internship experience combined with day to day life in Spain. This type of program replicates the environment of working without having previous work experience.
2. Why did you choose to come to Valencia?
I’ve always had an affinity for Spain and I’ve always seen myself living in Spain or a Spanish speaking country after I graduate. I had been to Valencia before but only for 2 days and I fell in love with the city, so this was the perfect opportunity for me to come back.
3. Where did you have your internship and what type of work did you do?
I did my internship with a company which was developed to promote the Valencian sport of handball, which is a very unique sport. Since I speak Spanish fluently, I think i was lucky to be placed in a very authentic and local company, it was actually in a small town right outside valencia called Alfara. This company has a group of athletes who regularly go through training with them, and my job was to work with the athletes who had problems, such as an ACL strain. I was able help them strengthen the muscles to alleviate the stress on the knee, just as an example. Throughout the time I was there we were able to prevent a lot of injuries, it was a lot of work and truly great work experience.
4. What type of cultural differences did you experience?
Synchronizing to the schedules of the stores and everywhere here was something that I had to consciously think about and get used to, since it’s very different from back home.
5. What was your most memorable highlight from Valencia?
First of all, it’s hard to condense everything down to one answer. I think getting to go to an actual Valencia handball match was a definite highlight. The game was in a little town next to Alfara, so getting the opportunity to be there with the locals at the game and even spending time with them after, having horchata, was a real experience. Everyday was a highlight honestly.
6. What are the benefits of doing an international internship?
I actually was very proactive about wanting to be out of my comfort zone, which I feel is necessary at some point when doing an international internship especially. Since I studied in English, throughout the internship I had to think in English and translate to Spanish related to whatever work I was doing at the time, since the athletes I worked with didn’t speak English at all. Apart from the work you have to do at your internship, you have to also figure out how to get around with transportation in a new city and in ways you normally don’t back home (or at least for many of us).
7. How would you rate your overall experience in Valencia?
I could miss this train and have to stay here forever. I 1000 percent would come back if things line up and I have the chance. I’m heartbroken having this conversation. It was a really great experience in that we really got to live and feel like the locals. We got used to seeing the same people on the street, which was really cool.
8. What do you plan to do upon your return to the US?
I need to finish my thesis and then I’m planning to be Assistant coach of the men’s soccer team at my university. I’m already an ambassador of admissions for the school, which I will continue to do. I work with potential recruits, especially international students who speak Spanish. Then, who knows, I’d love to find a way to come back to Spain and live here. I’m sure I’ll be back.
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