Tag Archives: placement abroad

My placement year as a Digital Marketing Intern in Spain

Shashi Lallu is currently working towards a Sociology BSc degree. Last year he completed an international placement in Madrid, Spain where he worked as a Digital Marketing Intern for King’s Group. Find out more about his placement experience here…

What did the work on your placement involve?

The work on my placement involved website development and support, social media content creation and management, market research, email marketing, digital design and event management.

What skills did you develop during your placement?

The skills I developed include attention to detail and various specific skills including using the website creation tool WordPress, social media tools like Hootsuite, the email marketing tool MailChimp, Adobe Photoshop and InDesign, and Power Editor for Social Media ads. I also learnt the importance of meeting targets and the value of keeping calm during stressful situations.

What was the highlight of your placement?

The highlight of my placement was receiving the Employee of the Month Award for my work on a new website for a sub group of the company.

Has doing an overseas placement helped or changed your plans for the future?

It’s definitely helped me for the future in the sense that I know that I can push myself and achieve a lot regardless of where I work in the world. I also think it’s made me more employable due to the fact I was willing to go abroad for work, which shows a degree of commitment and readiness for adaptation.

What advice would you give to other students thinking about doing a placement abroad?

I would recommend it 100% and would urge people to go abroad. I wasn’t sure beforehand, but I didn’t even know any Spanish when I arrived in Madrid, so if I can do it and have a great year, then they can too.

What tips would you give to other students to help them make the most out of their placement?

I would tell them to meet as many people as possible and visit as many places they can whilst abroad to make the experience unforgettable.

Do you have any other comments you would like to add?

Not only did I have a great time working on my placement, but I’ve also made great friends from the experience, and I would do it again if ever given the opportunity.

Has Shashi’s experience inspired you to undertake a placement abroad? Find out more about international placements, visit Aston Futures to search available opportunities or chat to us about your options. 

My placement at Stockholm Business School

Jordan Wrigley is currently studying Economics and Management here at Aston. Last year, he undertook a study placement at Stockholm Business School in Sweden. Here he talks to us about his placement experience…

What did the work on your placement involve?

I was on a study placement, so the work wasn’t too different to what I was used to at Aston. Exams, essays, group work: the placement functioned much the same as a year at Aston would, but was structured differently – with modules taking place one at a time, a month each – and with many more opportunities for language study and picking modules outside of my usual area of study, such as Fashion and Psychology.

What skills did you develop during your placement?

Multiculturalism – Being an international student meant I met people from all around the world, rather than just the local Swedes. I learned how to communicate with people from other countries, in a place where English isn’t a requirement, and had ample opportunity to learn about fellow students’ home countries.

Languages – Learning a language is great, but there’s so much more development when you use it outside of a classroom. Being able to develop Swedish day to day, and French with the other international students was amazing. I learned more of a language in a month than I would do in a year back in the UK with a textbook.

Timekeeping – Juggling university and a part-time job in the UK can be a challenge, but when you’re also wanting to see everything the new country has to offer, you have to learn how and when to fit sightseeing trips into your schedule.

What was the highlight of your placement?

Being mistaken for a Swede was the highlight outside of studying! Knowing that I’d adapted to the language and culture so well that I could be mistaken for a local was overwhelming; I felt like I belonged there.

In terms of the placement itself, being able to study something so different was a real highlight. As much as I enjoy Economics, after four years of studying it, it was amazing to branch out and learn about topics I’d never have been able to consider on my degree otherwise.

How did you secure your placement?

As with all study placements, I applied through Aston Futures with my CV and a cover letter, and went to an interview with Aston’s international placements team.

Has doing an overseas placement helped or changed your plans for the future?

Living outside the UK was always something I’d considered, but was never sure if it was really something I could do. After a placement overseas I saw the benefits of living outside the UK, and I found a culture that I could embrace and be a part of. My goal now is to move to Sweden permanently!

What advice would you give to other students thinking about doing a placement abroad?

Do it! There’s no other time in your life when you can live in another country without the risks. Aston supports you the whole way, and you have your home country and home university to fall back on at the end of the placement. Don’t wait until you’re locked into a job, a family, or a home in the UK and find yourself unable to try life elsewhere in the world – do it now!

What tips would you give to other students to help them make the most out of their placement?

A year goes by so much faster than you think, especially when you’re working/studying most of the time. It’s not a holiday where you can take a week out to visit somewhere nice. Plan ahead, and make sure you know everything you want to do while you’re out there, and fit it around your work/study.

At the same time, don’t treat your placement as just a year that you have to do: throw yourself into it and work on improving yourself in every way that pops up. Your placement year is the year to do things you’d never do otherwise, so use the time wisely!

Make sure you’re also prepared for the climate of wherever you’re going. So many of the other international students were surprised and complaining when Stockholm had four months of snow. Plan ahead!

Has Jordan’s experience inspired you to undertake a placement abroad? Find out more about international placements, visit Aston Futures to search available opportunities or chat to us about your options. 

Towards The End of Placement

Almost a year on, and Placement is coming to an end… 🙁

I can definitively say it has been one of the best years of my life, and has really been a highlight of University so far. And to think I was questioning what the fuss about a Placement Year was all about!!!

Doing a Placement abroad can be very costly, depending on where you complete yours, but also on whether you’re working, or studying. However, it can also be relatively cheap, if you’re careful with your spending. I would not want any student, who has their heart set on doing a placement abroad, to be put off by the financial aspect that is involved. There are many forms of financial support available to students, primarily Student Finance, but also scholarships, and help from Aston. See what you are eligible for, and apply! These services are in place to help you, so utilise them. If ever in doubt about anything, just make an appointment to see the Careers + Placement Team, and air any concerns, or queries that you may have. They are very helpful, and will ensure that you are supported as much as possible.

As you start your Placement journey, do not forget to stay in touch will your friends from Aston, as you, or they, may be feeling a little homesick, and might want to speak to a familiar face. No one’s Placement goes smoothly for the whole year, but if yours is going well at the start, just remember that your friend’s might not be going as well, especially if they are working, as this could prove to be more difficult – physically, and mentally – than studying. So, just keep some sort of regular contact, so that you can exchange stories, and experiences of what has gone on so far.

Of course, they might not need any support, as their Placement could be going great. In fact, some of my friends are staying abroad for another month, or two, even after there Placement has ended, as they have enjoyed it so much.

loving madrid thus far!

Keep in touch with your family, so that they know that you are enjoying the experience of a Placement, but also to put their nerves at ease. Moving out, or living abroad can be stressful for you, but also for your family members, as they will be worrying about you non-stop. Whenever you get the opportunity, just allay their fears, so that they know that they do not have to worry about you so much. Although, if you are not enjoying any aspect of staying away from home, or living abroad, then let your family know, as there is always a solution.

Whilst on Placement, ensure that you keep on top of all your paperwork e.g. Erasmus forms, as problems with those documents will only add more headaches to your already hectic life! If ever unsure, just drop the Aston team an email. Personally, with my Placement coming to an end, I have reflected on the past year, and am so happy that I took this route. I know it will not be for everyone, but if you believe you could see yourself studying abroad, in an international environment, meeting people from all over the world, who will become lifelong friends, then do your research, and if you’re still interested – APPLY!!!

see you soon!

Till next time!

Mastering Madrid.

Greetings from Madrid!

I have now been studying here for roughly two and a half months, and have loved every bit of it. This post will mainly focus on what Madrid has to offer, so anyone aspiring to do their placement here, can receive a few hints, and tips of what might be in store for them. I will also briefly touch upon the finances of studying, and living abroad, as this is a big factor in the decision-making for most people, myself included.

Where to begin?! The University life here is somewhat similar to that of Aston, however, I found that there are some differences, mainly in the way you are examined, and in the way some of the courses are organised. First, and foremost, I got to choose my own modules here, something that you do not get the chance to do until final year, if you’re a joint-honours ABS, and LSS student like myself. This is something I feel is a benefit, as you are given more autonomy, and can focus on a field that you enjoy, or are good at, or both! At UC3M, which is the University I am studying at, there is a big emphasis on continuous evaluation, and mid-term tests. This is something we do not really encounter at Aston, but I have found that they are really not that bad, and can work out in your favour, as there is then less stress on you for the final exam.

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The social life is great, and there is so much to do. The Erasmus Student Network (ESN) team here are really helpful, and arrange some great events. You should sign up for the ESN card, it’s only €5, and it great value for money. I would recommend everyone to take part in the early events, as it is a great way to get to know people, and to learn about Madrid, and all of it’s hotspots. The food is unbelievably cheap – especially compared to England! Madrid really is a sports-mad city, so for any football or basketball fans that are planning to study, or work here, they will not be disappointed.

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Generally, the city itself it relatively cheap. Accommodation is cheaper than the majority of anything that you will find in England. You can purchase a travel card, which is €20 a month for students, and with that, you can travel anywhere within the region of Madrid, on any mode of public transport. Flights back to the UK are also quite cheap, so you can return home, if you need to. So, for anyone that wants to do their placement abroad, but is put off by the expenses, should really look into it, as Madrid is relatively cheaper than most other European capital cities, and you will be guaranteed to have a great experience.

Thanks for reading!

Hola Madrid!

Goodbye England, and hello Spain!

The second part of my placement journey has now begun. Besides looking forward to the food and weather that Spain has to offer, I was intrigued about how the University and the social side of things would compare to that of Finland, and the UK. So, far the social aspect really hasn’t disappointed, but I have found the academic side is a little different to that of Finland, and England as well, and it might take a little longer to get used to. There is so much going on in Madrid, that it’s not hard not to meet new people. The university itself, is a great campus, but the lectures, and classes are organised in a slightly contrasting manner to England, but it is really not that different.

This takes me back to one of my earlier entries in the Careers+Placements Blog, where I recommended that all students preparing to take a placement year, really think about the location that they want to study or work in. I have now seen through first-hand experience that the location is just as important as the job role/partner university. Students, myself included, usually don’t give the country or city a second thought, and are more worried about what they will be doing on a regular basis, whether it be studying or working. This might come back to haunt you in the future, once you’ve started your placement, and then it will be too late to do anything about it.

When I first landed here, it was difficult to converse with the locals, as few speak English. I have picked up a few words in Spanish, but this is a personal goal that I hope to work on in my time here. This is a good measurement to see how far you have come on your placement – before you start, give yourself some personal goals that you wish to work on during your placement, and then by the end of it, see if you have made any progress, and achieved your goal(s). Don’t think of your year abroad (or in the UK), as another year that you have to complete before you graduate, but embrace it as a chance to improve yourself, your skill-set, your experiences, and most importantly, your memories!

Students who might be put off the idea of studying abroad, as they feel it will be very similar to life at Aston, will be very much mistaken. The experience is wholly different, and does not compare to anything that you will have ever done before. Madrid, has been great so far, and I am looking forward to the remaining four months or so!

So long for now!

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Hasta luego, Madrid!

It’s crazy to think that my time in Madrid has already come to an end. Two months into being home and I still miss my students, friends and colleagues very much…and of course, the weather! Honestly, I didn’t expect these special young children to make such an impact on my life – but they did and I hope they continue to grow as people and learn new things 🙂

Leaving my placement at SEK El Castillo was very emotional. I had already predicted that there would be a water work display but it really made me think about the amazing experience I had out there and what fantastic people I had met. I would like to thank all my teachers at SEK for making me feel so welcome and being so so kind to me over the past year. Although it was a sad departure, I hope I can visit again sometime in the future as requested by my students! ^^’ honestly, I don’t think I could have worked with better children and teachers. They never failed to make me smile…

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FOTO GRUPO 1ºAla foto de clase

I feel very happy being able to share my placement story with others because I had been lucky enough to work with such a great school. Ultimately, I must thank Aston University for this opportunity in my life that I’ll never forget. It’s amazing how well prepared Aston are and how much they support you inside and outside of education. Thank you for giving me this time to grow as a person!

My next step is to enjoy the rest of my summer holiday and mentally prepare myself to tackle final year in September – its going to be hard but so worth it in the end. Hard work really does pay off and I hope to continue this positivity through the last year of higher education!

To anyone who has been reading my blogposts, thank you for your interest and I hope you’ve enjoyed my journey to Madrid with me. I really appreciate everyone’s support and love I’ve received this year and I’d like to wish all perspective placement students good luck for your placement year, it’s going to be one you’ll never forget. Make the most of it and enjoy life to its fullest whilst you can 🙂

It’s time to officially sign off. Thank you all again for your time!

– Tiffany

 

 

Final semester at SEK

The third and final semester of my placement here in Madrid has been eventful. A lot has been going on at school and I’ve done some exciting activities during this time. Work has been busy because the academic year is coming to an end so we’re having to sort out all the end of year grades, evaluations etc. The weather has drastically changed and we’re not in out high 20 degrees every single day – so nice! This is probably the one thing I will miss the most when I leave! ^^’

El Escorial – farm school : 27.04 – 29.04 

So, I got rewarded a two night three day school trip to the farm school back in May for my consistent hard work. My teacher and co-ordinator suggested this idea and I couldn’t have been happier. I was thankful and grateful that they managed to do this for me. I had such a great few days spending time with my teachers outside of the classroom! We had good food and spent the days laughing at the talking parrots ^^’ I’ll always be grateful for this reward because it showed that hard work really does pay off and it never goes unnoticed.

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Madrid Zoo Aquarium : May 2nd 

Since the weather was getting better, I decided to take a trip to Madrid’s zoo/aquarium! It was only 20 euros for entrance to both the zoo AND aquarium – bargain right?! It’s definitely worth a visit… we saw lots of animals, including BEARS!

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Madrid Open 2016 QF : 05.05

One of the highlights of my placement is watching Nadal play tennis live! I watched him play in the Madrid Open semi finals and it was amazing. The atmosphere was amazing! It’s such a shame that he lost in the semi finals but nevertheless, I still got to see him play 🙂 the stadium was very cool.

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Faunia : 26.05

Last Thursday, I went on yet another school trip to Faunia which was like a small zoo for children! My class are currently learning about animals so it was perfect for them to go and investigate about all the different animals that exist. This was my final school trip with my class and it was bitter sweet. I’ve been on 4 trips with these kids and I’ve loved every single one. Nothing beats seeing them smile so much when they’re away from the class ^^’

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As you can see, I’ve had quite a busy final semester… and I’ve been having such a great time! It’s sad to think that it’ll all be over in a matter of days!

Tiffany

 

 

 

 

 

What it’s like living abroad / in Spain

Living abroad is a scary yet exciting decision to make. It’s slightly different from moving away to live out for University since you can just casually take the train home whenever you like and whenever you’re missing your mum’s home cooked food. It’s a whole different story when you live in another country. It’s a new experience that you will remember for the rest of your life and it’s the honestly the best opportunity to learn to be independent and to gain new experiences. You decide where you would like to go and ‘break free’ from your standard home routine.

One of the biggest perks of living in a country like Spain is definitely the weather. From August to late October, the weather is beautiful (still)… but from then on, it gets a colder. Most people (myself included) assume that Spain is ‘hot’ all year round… please do NOT make the mistake of thinking this! It is most definitely not good weather all year round as I have experienced heavy rain, strong winds …almost as bad as England! Ok, maybe that was slightly exaggerated.

If you live out for University then you’re pretty much half way there to living abroad. You’ve already entered the independent life and you’re fine to fend for yourself (kinda). If you’re lucky like me, you’ll meet great people on your placement and you’ll make lots of friends! But some aren’t as lucky and find themselves quite lonely – it’s really important to venture out and at least attempt to meet new people…otherwise you’ll be isolating yourself in a foreign country that barely speaks your language! Believe me, you don’t want this to happen to you.

Money is something you have to personally watch over when you’re living abroad because before you know it, 3/4 of your Erasmus has gone and you don’t realise what and where you’ve spent it all on! Most the times you will eat lunch or dinner out and eventually that will add up. If you have a kitchen, try and cook as much as possible! But that’s not saying you can’t go out and treat yourselves to a nice meal every so often. Thankfully, we have our Erasmus and Student Loan to rely on and think about getting a part time job whilst you’re out there. I currently tutor three students every Saturday for two hours for extra English classes. My placement is unpaid so I took the initiative to get myself a job to earn some income.

Transport is great in Madrid – I pay 20 euros a month for access to the metro and buses which saves SO much money. One journey to Madrid city centre from where I live costs 3 euros 60 alone. If you’re from London, then you’ll be more than used to using the underground or taking buses… if you’re not, you’ll learn to use the metro ever so quickly and nowadays, we have smartphone apps to help us get around on them! It’s all about learning and finding your way.

Be open to trying new things…this is important. Wherever you end up, the country might not be 100% to your likings and it might not offer everything you’re used to having. Travel to different cities, try new food, meet new people – just have as much fun as possible and make the most of your time abroad. There are tons of different cuisines in Madrid – from the typical Spanish tapas to Japanese food, Chinese, Indian, Turkish etc.

The Spanish culture is very different from the English. In Spain, everyone is very laid back and some people are not so polite. There’s a lot of pushing and shoving involved on the metro and lack of personal space. But this is something that you get used to …eventually! Your normal dinner 6:30/7pm dinner routine will be pushed back to 8pm, sometimes 8:30pm. Again, something you have to adapt to and you learn about another culture whilst on your year abroad ~

The last thing you want to do is finish your year abroad regretting this and that – so make the most of it and choose your destination wisely 🙂

Tiffany

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It’s not ALL about working or studying!

Yes, your primary purpose of your YA is to work or study but it’s not all about just studying or working. Your 9-5, 5 days a week might be the norm but the weekends, public holidays are for you to go out and venture! If travelling and trying new things are right up your street, then this is your time to shine. Don’t be one of those boring students who refuse to move off their bottoms ^^’

Here in Spain, I’ve had quite a few long weekends (public holidays) which has allowed me to travel to different cities in Spain – perfect! I have lived here for 7 months now and I feel very content with the things I have done, places I’ve visited, up until now.

Valencia 
Not long after I first moved to Spain, my roommate and I took a very spontaneous trip to Valencia. Literally, one day after work we decided to book our journey there and our accommodation…if I remember correctly, it took us just 30 minutes to get everything sorted. We went back in September so the weather was still pretty warm/hot! The food and beach were beautiful!

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Segovia 

Segovia was a small historical town that didn’t offer a lot but the buildings and architecture there was absolutely breathtaking. We were able to have lunch just by the 2,000 year old Roman Aqueduct and enjoy the good weather.

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Barcelona

My roommate’s family were visiting Barcelona so we decided to pop over too! It took us two and a half hours to get there by train and our train tickets cost…a lot! But it was so worth it. I was able to see so many things and try new food. This is the life you want to live! Oh and I even got to visit Camp Nou football stadium 🙂

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Cuenca 

Again, Cuenca was a very small city that really cool aspects to it. The city is known for its ‘hanging houses’ …though we only saw the one ^^’ the red bridge in the photos below was extremely high! >__< and I have a huge fear of bridges… so yes, I soldiered on with my eyes closed, gripping onto my roommate.

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Toledo 

Toledo was our most recent day trip out and it was a really nice day. The sun was out to play and it made our day that much better. All these small cities are very beautiful ~ though there isn’t much to do there at all, it’s just nice to do some walking in the peace and quiet where you can see amazing sculptured buildings left, right and center.

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So, this is what I have been up to so far during my placement – visiting other nearby cities and trying to try new things all the time. Not only have I visited other cities, but I’ve discovered some really cool places in central Madrid too which I’ll update you guys on soon, for those of you who are looking for a placement in Madrid 🙂

Spain has so much to offer so I would definitely recommend doing  your year abroad here! ~

Tiffany

 

Thinking about studying abroad?

Thinking about studying abroad?

Honestly, I did not really plan on studying abroad. My initial plan was to work abroad for a year and then go back home and complete my degree. However, life doesn’t always go to plan and it was extremely hard to find a work placement or internship abroad which were interesting apart from teaching.

I am studying abroad in Ankara, which is Turkey’s capital city. Yes, I know, I thought Istanbul was the capital too. But, it was a superb decision to study abroad and I have immensely enjoyed the semester I’ve spent here.

So here are some tips on studying abroad for your placement year/exchange:

Number one:

Find out what is being offered by your university. Go to the international placements team, ask questions, and find out which countries your university has links with. Pretty much go crazy with researching. Don’t forget to find out what type of funding you are entitled to receive too.

Number two:

Now that you have a vague idea about where you would like to study abroad, give your parents a heads up. Yeah, you are legally an adult, but you can’t just randomly pack your bags and tell your parents on the day that you are spending four or more months abroad.

Number three:

Now you will need to start the application process. For me it was pretty straightforward since I pretty much stayed in Europe, so had to go through Erasmus. Erasmus is basically the European exchange program.

I rewrote my CV and cover letter, went through the interviewing process and a few emails and stuff later…wala! I had secured my place as an Erasmus/exchange student.

http://www.erasmusprogramme.com/study_abroad.php  (Want to find out more about the Erasmus program? Click on the link)

Number four:

DON’T MISS DEADLINES! My initial plan was to go to another country, but sadly I had missed the January application deadline due to all my exams. I pretty much forgot to apply because I was so busy.

Number five:

Don’t over pack. You can go shopping when you move into your accommodation. Not like you are moving to the middle of nowhere. If you are though….. erm…. You might have some issues.

Number six:

Get a valid visa, make sure you have all the insurance stuff which you need and book your flights accordingly.

Number seven:

Go to your chosen study abroad destination and settle in. Meet new people and enjoy the “honey moon” stage.

Number eight:

Don’t think about home too much, limit talking to friends back home you will see them when you are back. Try to enjoy your time abroad.

Number nine:

Don’t forget to study. You are still a student and you know… your grades abroad will still affect your grades back home.

Number ten:

Time flies. So have as much fun as you can. Before you know it, you’ll be back home again reminiscing the time you lived in another country on your own.

The video below inspired me to study abroad. What he shows and talks about is so relevant. I’ve only been in Turkey for a few months and I’m not the same 20 year old I was back home. I’ve grown so much as a person…and will continue to grow during my stay here.