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The last weeks of life in Seville - Part 1

Read how Ana-Maria, Cristina, Tavia and Sam have been getting on in their final weeks of living and working in Sevilla!

Ana - Maria who works at 3Si as Assistant Project Co-Ordinator!

Photo curtesy of Ana - standing on top of the Mushroom watching the sunset

'My work placement has been very interesting and dynamic and I am grateful I was able to experience another type of working in a different country – I enjoyed meeting and building relationships with a wide range of people (from colleagues to college students from various environments, teachers and local employers in the tourism, catering, business and hair and beauty industries). I learnt a lot about project management and group coordination, as well as problem solving, mentoring and offering overall support for our interns. I stepped out of my comfort zone and I managed to lead multiple tours around town for big groups of students and take them to some cultural activities. I had the chance to see how much work is involved behind the scenes for this kind of work placements and be present at every stage of the internship experience: from preparing everything for student arrival (including accommodation or workplace risk assessments for example) to airport pick-up for students, settling students into their flats or hostel, helping them discover the city, meet their employers, monitor their progress, deal with any issues and assist with their departure. The work has been very meaningful for me as I contributed to their positive internship experience, which offered the opportunity to learn new skills and progress in their professional life.

Photo curtesy of Ana - A street in Cordoba

Another important experience has been to adjust to the Spanish culture and lifestyle and try to speak the language with people at work (with local employers for example), locals, Blabla car drivers and other travellers. I feel I have achieved a lot as I held proper conversations in Spanish, made friends from Seville and communicated with other travellers in Spanish. This has showed me that I can adjust to a new place and has also given me more confidence to travel and explore the world on my own (which was something I was quite afraid to do)! I loved travelling around Andalusia and experience their amazing culture – I recommend Córdoba and its wonderful patio festival, Granada (with the amazing Alhambra and Sacromonte neighbourhood where you can watch a stunning sunset over the whole region and watch flamenco shows in caves) and Tarifa (popular for water sports, a place where you can get a glimpse of the Moroccan territory). Besides travelling and getting immersed in Spanish culture, another goal of mine was to be able to ride a bike in Seville (as it is a very bike-friendly city). I am not going to lie – it has been a bit difficult at first as I was regularly crashing into benches and bins and people at bar terraces (almost!) – which was quite embarrassing, but I kept practising and now I feel I am less of a menace on the streets! I was able to ride the bike from home to work, which was one of the first goals I set when I started this experience.

Photo curtesy of Ana - Cordoba patio festival

Overall, the whole experience has been an interesting mix between travelling/exploring around (as there is so much to see and do both in and outside Seville), being a student again (as I had to submit Community Development assignments, go to Spanish classes and complete homework) and also being at work, all at the same time! It got a bit overwhelming at times, that paired with a new place, new people to live with and new culture – however, if future interns experience any sort of challenges, please remember that they also provide great opportunities for growth, self-reflection and improvement and the whole experience can be extremely rewarding in the end! I will return to the UK with new skills and perspectives and I am planning to find a job in a similar environment. I will definitely come back to Spain because it fascinates me and I won’t rule out the possibility of moving here in future. I will keep the Spanish “joie de vivre” (alegría de vivir) close to my heart.'

Cristina who works at Cooperación Internacional as an English Teacher and Foodbank Assistant

Photo curtesy of Crstina

'I have really enjoyed this placement and it saddens me that it is coming to an end. At the Cooperación Internacional foodbank in the East of Seville I truly feel part of the team of volunteers, a wholesome and inspiring community. I have learnt about the ways in which food distribution programmes are run, the force of community-run projects and the ways in which they can be improved. It have enjoyed doing the community development course alongside the placements as topics often overlapped, giving me a theoretical praxis from which to approach the practical work I have been undertaking. Teaching English in a secondary school has been more challenging than anticipated but I have learnt the importance of creativity in lesson planning and allowing students to take lead in their own learning. This placement has reinforced my passion for teaching and development work, giving me an invaluable insight into how these sectors operate in the south of Spain. I would thoroughly recommend this programme to anyone interested in food poverty, social inequality, Spanish culture and education.

I feel settled and in inspired by the oranges, the endless tiles and the people I am meeting in Seville. The Macarena neighbourhood, with its Latino culture and its foot on the river, the Alamillo park and the magical Alameda have a special kind of beauty which I will miss. The city is bursting with outdoors and cultural activities, meaning that we have been spoilt for things to do in our spare time. From cultural festivals, to live music and a flourishing poetry scene, the city is a feast for the artistically inclined. If you step out of the ‘guiri’ cocoon, locals will embrace you with open arms and you will have a chance to dip into the passionate and rich Andalucian culture. My written Spanish has certainly improved here, as I have developed my writing skills and learnt the ways of the Sevilla accent and lexicon. I have also learnt the importance of being aware of my role as a foreigner/tourist and the responsibility of respecting a city that is considerably poor and increasingly gentrified due to mass tourism. Since being here I have become more aware on the environmental impact of the fast-fashion industry and flying, as well as ways to approach plastic-free living. I have restrained from buying any new items of clothes whilst being here and performed a song about sexual harassment as a response to my own and my friend’s experiences of it. This placement is an opportunity to develop yourself personally, to delve into the things that are important to you.

Once I am back in the UK, I will have a break before staring a PGCE course in September to train as a secondary school Modern Languages teacher at the University of Bristol. This placement has revived my passion for teaching and languages and I am sure my experiences here will be relevant in my next endeavour. As a young linguist concerned with social justice, it has been a privilege to be able to take part in the Erasmus+ project, a fine example of the ways in which the EU is committed to education and positive community building. I feel hesitant returning to the Brexit-ridden confusion which has coloured recent times in the UK and I really hope that others will be able to also benefit from the experience of learning: about other cultures, about their own and about themselves. I certainly have!'

Tavia works as a Assistant Teacher at Colegio Britannico de Sevilla

Photo curtesy of Tavia, having a drink on her balcony!

'These past months in Sevilla have been rejuvenating, productive and electrifyingly audacious. I’ve lived in other cities/countries before and in the beginning it is always terrifying. However challenging, it has not been hard to adjust to the sun-kissed city sights or the delectable kaleidoscope of fresh fruits available. Speaking Spanish has been a daily part of life here; while searching for soul food in the supermarket or chatting with amigos nuevos. From starting with the basics and a little bit of confidence, I have significantly improved my understanding and application of the language during my time in Spain.

My work placement has been challenging. It has often been overwhelming and initially it consumed most of my energy each day. My class of 7 and 8 year-olds are incredible individuals but as a class they have been testing; I have learnt the extent of my patience and creativity in the classroom. I have also learnt about the dedication and emotional investment that it takes to impart knowledge (to fidgety pupils who study in their second or third language) by the example of the remarkable year 3 teacher.

Overall, building relationships with the pupils and staff has been gratifying. This Summer I will work for Manchester International Festival and then Manchester Art Gallery. After this, I will return to Spain to continue my work as a teaching assistant for the next academic year. Alongside school, I hope to further develop my creative portfolio and continue learning Spanish.'

Photo curtesy of Tavia, cards and messages from the children at Colegio Britannico de Sevilla

Sam has been working as a Research Asssistant at Doñana Biological Station

Photo curtesy of Sam, Granada

'My stay in Seville has been wonderful. I have been very busy with work, socialising and learning. Seville has been a great city to live in with lots to do and many places to see and experience. I am now much more familiar with my surroundings whether that be knowing where the best food is, the best bars are or how to get to somewhere in the city quickly. This along with my improved Spanish language abilities have made my time here very comfortable and enjoyable.

A combination of my own studies, the Spanish lessons and everyday interactions has allowed me to improve rapidly in Spanish. Work has been excellent especially now that I am more familiar with the routine and my responsibilities. I have met a lot of new people, learned a lot of new skills and have developed existing ones in my field whilst at the same time becoming more familiar with the biological research sector. I have had further opportunities to travel around Andalucía including to Granada which is a beautiful city.

After my time here in Seville has ended, I am planning to stay in Andalucía for a couple of weeks before heading elsewhere either to travel or participate in conservation work.'

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