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The last weeks of life in Seville - Part 3

Matt works at Doñana Biological Station as a Research Assistant

Photo curtesy of Matt, slack-lining

'The project I was working on at Estación Biológica de Doñana, has been truly amazing experience. I have spent the last three months as an integral team member and as such, I was trusted to carry on with the study in the laboratory, while my supervisor went away for a week. During those three months we spent half our time out in the national park building our project and collecting samples, with the rest of the time being in the laboratory processing and analysing the samples. I have seen a lot really interesting wild life and learnt about the intricate eco systems in the wetlands of de Doñana. I really enjoyed the research and would have gladly stayed on, to help out with the rest of the project.

The lifestyle here agrees with me, I love how chilled out everyone is and how cheap the food is. I managed to make some good friends outside of the program, who I went camping and climbing with a number of times. I can understand a lot more Spanish than I could before arriving here, but unfortunately I still haven’t mastered the art of the spoken work, I’ll carry on trying and see how it goes.

I’m not looking forward to going home so, I’m currently looking for funding to carry on doing biological research and applying for a lot of opportunities to help me get abroad working again. I am also considering going back to uni to do a PhD.'

Lucy works as an English Teacher at Queens College

Photo curtesy of Lucy

'I’ve really enjoyed being in Seville, cycling and walking around the city (although sometimes I wish I had a car!). There are interesting museums and really great, free events happening across the city most weeks. I loved the festival of puppetry where stages were set up in the Alameda and different parks and shows would start at 10pm after work. CAAC hosts really good music events most weekends. I like that Seville is a city but compared to many others it isn’t as hectic or crowded. I feel very comfortable here, possibly too comfortable as I have to keep writing lists of things I want to and must do before I leave!

Photo curtesy of Lucy

I arrived with zero Spanish and although I’m leaving still a relative beginner, having had private classes with Alvaro, I’ve definitely improved and I don’t panic when people start talking to me, I can usually communicate in broken Spanish. The Spanish classes have shown me how important the grammar lessons are when teaching English - right now I feel like all I can do is talk in Spanish about myself in the present tense!

Once I finish, I am heading home for six weeks to teach English in the UK before I move to Cairo, Egypt to work as an English teacher for the British Council. They run a two year teacher development programme which I hope to complete. I can’t wait to move to Cairo as there is a really interesting arts scene there and I hope to get my own studio (which I could never afford in the UK!). Learning Spanish in Seville has really encouraged me to undertake the challenge of learning Arabic - it will be even harder but worth it.'

Sam works at Colegio Britanico de Sevilla as an English Teacher

Photo curtesy of Sam

'When faced with the prospect of providing an accurate depiction of life in Seville it is perhaps of pertinence to start with the fact that life here will be different for all of you. Yet, one thing that will remain the same is the cliche that we all share the same skies. And at present, Seville has some of the sunniest I've seen. At first, working at a private school located on the outskirts of Seville felt a bit like I was in an unfunny version of Billy Maddison but after the first few days it felt like I was an actual teacher at an actual school. What luck ! The school was flexible with what lessons I wanted to assist in plus they gave me autonomy with what I wanted to do in my own lessons as long as we were practicing english, which I really enjoyed. The generously portioned free school lunches were also a welcome highlight of the timetable. Like with all schools some lessons are better than others and some days are better than others however I never had a truly bad day. Only good days and great days and maybe some just alright days. Despite having an enjoyable time whilst at school the early start was very demanding. I got up at 7am and got home at 5pm, this was even more taxing considering how late everyone in Seville eats. Not to mention how much there is to do. Ultimately, I believe the long days worked out for the best because if I wasn't at school Monday -Thursday I'd be spending all the money I don't have and be just as tired from all the other things there are to do. But if you asked me on those mornings you may have got a different answer !

Seville es mi ciudad y me gusto mucho. As you can tell everyone was very accommodating in helping me acclimatise to the local parlance. And moreover, moving here with the other Erasmus students was great in helping to settle into the city because we had a great mix of people who can and cannot speak Spanish. Before moving to seville all I'd been told of the city was theres a million things to do all hours of the day, it's cheap and it's always sunny. Now my time is nearly over in Seville, I can vouch for all of those facets of life here with confidence.'

Penny works at Co-operacion Internacional

Photo curtesy of Penny

'I cant believe its actually coming to the end of this three month programme already. I feel like I have only just scratched the surface of this wonderful city. So many open and friendly people. So much beauty, colourful orange trees, scented rose bushes and delicious tapas, all invigorating experiences to capture ones senses. The old mesmerising structures and cobbled side streets are almost like walking through a different era. I’m also completely taken by the musical and cultural varieties that could quench anyones thirst for life.

Photo curtesy of Penny

My work placement has really been a blessing in-disguise. I came to Seville with very little Spanish and though I am still not fluent, I feel I have really progressed in the food bank. Interacting with locals in a supportive and friendly environment is very encouraging. They almost feel like family and it will be very hard to forget them. Even with my limited Spanish we still manage to have a warm and beautiful connection that I think proves there are more languages than the spoken word. I have also had great experiences and wonderful connections with the Erasmus group. New friendships that I feel will stay with me for a long time. Travelling with the Erasmus team has been like a wee support network and has played a big part in making this place feel like home.!

I have fallen head over heels for Seville and I really hope to return in the future! The little time I have spent here is too much of a tease for me, but for now I will return to Edinburgh for work over the summer period. I really feel this community development programme, it can open a lot of doors for the future and although I am not sure what will happen later this year, I remain open to any beautiful opportunities this placement may have seeded.'

Emilia works at Kids & Sports as an English Teacher

Photo curtesy of Emilia

'Reflecting over my three months in Sevilla, I can say that I have truly enjoyed every aspect of this journey. My work placement has been incredibly enjoyable and has taught me a lot including the fact that teaching doesn’t always have to be done in a classroom environment. Being creative with your methods of teaching English is incredibly rewarding and it is so fulfilling to see your students progress week by week and gain confidence in their abilities. I have learned how to combine teaching a language with coaching and coordinating sports activities as well providing a safe and fun space for students to develop.

Despite not feeling fully immersed in the Spanish culture, I feel as though I have made great progress with my ability to communicate with locals. From small talk with neighbours in the lift to going out in the evenings with Sevillan friends and seeing what the city has to offer, I am infinitely more confident and motivated to continue learning the language.

I intend to return to Spain not only so that I can continue being immersed in the language but also to improve and develop my abilities as an English teacher. Gaining this type of experience is important to me as it is something I would like to pursue and take further to other places all around the world. Overall, I have had an incredible time living in this beautiful city and would recommend the programme to anyone who would like to collect experiences and discover new opportunities.'

Joss works at Doñana Biological Station as a Research Assistant

Photo curtesy of Callum

'It’s amazing how fast 3 months can pass when there is non stop sunshine and tapas. My time in Sevilla has been a really positive experience, leaving me with language and research skills that I hope I can use in the future. My work placement has been an interesting exposure to research beyond University study, and has allowed me to practice and gain confidence in independent fieldwork. I have been creating a database of tree species across urban parks in Seville, and analysing results to determine the spread of invasive species. I have found the work placement to be pretty relaxed, meaning I have sought extra research to assist with to keep my time filled and learn some extra skills. I go to the Donana national park on a fortnightly basis to help a Postdoc record the phenology of plants, and I’ve got to see a lot of wildlife and new plants species this way. I think the more proactive you are in your placement the better.

Unfortunately the independent nature of my workplace means I don’t get much chance to practice my Spanish at work, but there are lots of other opportunities to speak. Markets, cafes and local sports clubs have been the most useful for my language development, and I do think that I have improved over the 3 months.

It would have been ideal to stay on working at the Estation, and there are lots of projects that need help, but unfortunately due to the lack of science and research funding in Spain I will be returning to the UK, where I hope I can use my new skills to return to the field of environmental research, and maybe one day come back out to work here again.'

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