Tag Archives: Placement lessons

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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So this is it!

Today is the day I move out of my London flat. Everything is packed and the freezer is just defrosting! All I need is dad to pull up, complain about how much stuff I have (Disney does make the best soft toys ever) and then battle to get it all in the car only to turn around at the end and say ‘well it fitted in quite well considering’!

I cannot believe that I only have a week left at Disney on placement. It may sound cliché but the year has totally flown by. So much has happened that the months and weeks have slipped by. Yes there have been times that have been exceptionally tiring and I wished for a longer weekend but I honestly do not know where the time has gone.

Looking forward I now have a long summer ahead, taking 36 scouts to Japan and then a holiday in Greece. Then the dreaded thought of returning back to university. I’m faced with writing two dissertations, coursework and exams, something I haven’t really focused on now for over a year. However, I do feel that taking a placement year has shown me a couple of things:

1. Getting into a routine of working makes you productive

2. Putting in 100% effort gets you places

3. Working makes you focus on what you want to get out of degree

I’m now looking forward to finishing university and finding a job that I love as much as what this placemement has been!

If I were where you are now again – 5 top tips for working abroad

So, as second year students reading this blog, you’re probably being constantly bombarded with adverts for placements; advice from final years; and being badgered by your tutors to choose your placement!

I remember that situation. Now that I am here, in the middle of my placement (wow, have I been in Japan nearly six months already!?) I am looking back. Since hindsight is 20/20, I have been thinking about what I wish I knew before I left my comfy little flat in Birmingham!

1. Learn how to feed yourself.

What I mean by this is that you may know how to stick a ready meal in the oven; mix the contents of a can with some bread; or even bake a mean banana loaf (trust me, mine is to die for). All of your food knowledge so far is probably very UK-centric.

In Japan, space is a rare comodity

In Japan, space is a rare commodity

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Less is more… right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

What if this were your kitchen? Would you know what things can be cooked in a toaster oven? Would you have any idea what ingredients to buy to make something edible with a hot plate? How about including fibre in your diet when a box of cereal is three times the price?

Doing a little bit of homework before embarking on the placement would have helped me be healthier in my first couple of months. I dove right in the deep end and learned the hard way!

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Positive “Blue Monday” thoughts

Blue Monday is the one day a year where everyone is, well, blue. Everyone got fat over Christmas, and is now depressed they haven’t lost their weight by now. The smokers who said they would quit for new year have left the E-Cigarette behind, everyone is sad that the festive season is all over, again.

It’s difficult being an assistant in January because your supervisors are stressed because reality is back and this then impacts you. Everyone’s to-do list’s are getting longer and nothing seems to be getting ticked off.

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Weirdly enough though, I’m still positive. I know this rut will be over soon enough and this is what placement is all about. there are going to be highs, like being able to go out and really help someone with a problem they are facing, and there are going to be lows, like crying in your supervisors office because the colour coded, graph covered spreadsheet you made needs to be redone because some statistician somewhere decided it should be presented in another format…but that’s another story.

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5 Tips For Placement

Starting my placement, I really had no idea what to expect! But I’ve learnt a lot over the last few months, and here are my top tips so far…

Ask lots of questions– People don’t expect you to know everything when you start and everyone’s been in your position at one point or another, so ask as many questions as possible as you’ll learn faster and be better off in the long run. When I first started everyone used a lot of acronyms, and I had no idea what most of them meant! But it was definitely worthwhile asking when I didn’t understand something and people are usually more than willing to help if they can.

Don’t forget about development– I know when you’re really busy it can be easy to put development needs behind you for a while. But try not to do this, as it’s really important and will benefit you in the future. I’m lucky as my manager is really encouraging about development and I have weekly one-to-ones with her to talk about projects and get feedback. It’s also a great way of knowing their expectations of you, keeping on track and up to date with what’s going on, as well as talking about performance.

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