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Part 1 - Catching up with our new Interns!

Our new interns arrived in Seville nearly three weeks ago. I have asked each intern to tell me a little bit about what they've been up to in their spare time and how they are getting on with their placements and life in Seville!

Below are a few of their experiences;

Rosa - talking about her placement at EBD

'My internship is with 'Estación Biológica de Doñana' - the name suggests that I am working inside Doñana National Park but I am actually working on Isla de la Cartuja which is about a 15 minute bike ride from where I am living (La Macarena). It is a lovely building, bursting with scientists from all over the world doing amazing research. My internship is assisting a PhD student who is looking at invasive plant functional traits. I already feel as though I am learning so much. I have been encapsulating leaf tissue samples ready for stable isotope analysis, weighing root samples and using software on the computer to measure the length of the roots, completing a database of plant functional traits, I have visited two national parks to collect soil samples (Sierra Norte de Sevilla & Parque natural de Los Alcornocales) & I have also been to a lecture on the use of surrogate species in conservation. My supervisor makes sure that I understand what I am doing and also why it's important to his research.'

Charlotte - talking about what she has been up to in Seville

'If you're bored in Sevilla it's because you want to be. There is constantly something to do... During the week all the interns usually meet up and go for a drink in the Alameda, go see some live jazz or flamenco, or go to intercambios. The first weekend a group went to the beach in Punta Umbría, and this weekend some of us have signed up to a day kayak trip.'

'This photo is from the Flamenco Tattoo exhibition at the Museo del Baile Flamenco -- really beautiful designs by Míriam Moreno- the hand movements in flamenco are of hindu origin, and the Gypsy community are originally from the North of India'

Matty - on teaching English at Queens College

'I'm an teaching assistant at an Queen's College. I help the current teachers with the students, who are from 3 years until 16. I have been given my own class, who I teach twice per week. My class is students aged 4-6 so I use a lot of games, music, singing and other fun activities to keep them engaged whilst learning English. I've never taught kids before so I was quite surprised with how energetic the classes are, but they're lovely to teach so it's been a great experience so far. When assisting the other teachers, I work one on one with some students who need extra help. I also am assisting classes in which they're preparing to take Cambridge Exams in order to be accepted into college/university. These classes are smaller in size and quite different to the younger classes as these students are extremely focused as they are all wanting to do the best they can in the exam. Overall, my first 2 weeks at Queen's has been fun, loud, quite intense at times, and overall an enjoyable learning experience.'

Tom - talking about what he gets up to in his spare time

'I love Sevilla! It’s such a cool city! I want to spend more time with people from Sevilla - both to improve my Spanish and to get to know the city better. Meeting people through intercambios is really helping with that. It’s really easy too to settle in to a place when you come to it with 15 other people who are super majo (nice). Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had a great time getting to know the city and getting to know the people that I came here with.'

'I’ve been spending my free time primarily focussed on improving my Spanish. I’ve been to loads of intercambios and met some lovely Sevillanos :) Outside of that I’m reading Harry Potter in Spanish so I’ve been sitting on various benches in various parks reading it. I can’t actually ever remember finishing a book so when I do it’ll be the first book I’ve ever independently read cover to cover - Spanish or English!'

Saadia - on her placement with EBD

'My three month work placement is at the Estación Biológica de Doñana (EBD) Station and the research I am assisting with analyses the factors associated to the transmission dynamics of vector-borne pathogens. The work I have contributed so far has included: processing and preparing samples of mosquitoes for different techniques of extraction of DNA and PCR. I have also had the opportunity to analyse mosquito saliva using special databases and programmes on the computer. Molecular biology is very intense due to the precision and accuracy needed whilst working with samples but I am thankful to be learning as much as I can in such a short window of time. All my colleagues are supportive, patient and helpful - I am really excited about the weeks ahead!'

- A cheeky selfie on Saadia in the Lab!

- Another photo of Saadia in the Lab, hard at work!

Joe - on working with Ecologistas en Accion

'I'm working with Ecologistas en Acción in the North of Sevilla. The project involves a collection of around 70 allotments which are tended to by a community of mostly retired people, but also some young groups and also physically or mentally handicapped citizens of the city. Most of the allotment holders are quite independent and look after their plots according to their own needs and schedules, but my coordinator, Susana, is always on hand to help as needed. It is not uncommon for her to be approached by a señor in braces and a sunhat and asked something along the lines of: "Is it too late to plant garlic?" In addition to providing casual support in this way, she provides training to the allotment holders on anything they would like to know more about. Having spent two weeks as an intern at the site, she has already given me training in things as varied as plant rotation, how to make the best compost, and which plants grow well (or not well) together. As someone who is interested in gardening and food production, it's all incredibly fascinating.

My role is quite independent and the tasks are varied. So far the bulk of my time has been spent preparing (weeding!) a plot to plant and cultivate my own produce. In addition, I have been on hand to assist other allotment holders with anything that they need help with- which mostly means the heavy work. In return, they teach me a little bit about their plot and give me some of their produce to take home.

As you can probably imagine, the work is entirely in Spanish. As I am only at B1 level, this has been something of a challenge but incredibly rewarding. I have put a lot of effort into learning useful vocabulary, which means I can now have a conversation about manure, furrows and hoes even if I still struggle with the basics in other walks of life like buying vegetables. The infamous Sevillian accent has also been something of a test, although it has slowly trickled its way into my speech and I'm sure my friends in Madrid will be horrified the next time I speak to them!

- Joe & Stephanie working hard on the allotment

- Lucy the local friendly allotment cat!

There will be a following blog post next week with the rest of the interns experiences at their work placements and how they have been getting on with life in Seville!

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