The Abroad Experience of Tiare – Barcelona Blog

Today, we introduce you to 'Tiare's Abroad Experience'! This Dutch AE’er tells in this Barcelona blog about her experience abroad as an intern. Tiare (22) was born in Amsterdam and has Mexican blood. She is currently studying at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam where she is studying Social Work. Her internship in Barcelona involves working with refugees and migrants. Besides the delicious food, beautiful weather and lively character of the city, the large amount of different cultures that come together in Barcelona has been a big motivation for Tiare to choose Barcelona. In this blog, she shares her experiences of Barcelona and her internship at a Spanish nonprofit organisation!

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Why did you want to do an internship abroad?

'From a young age, I have always been very interested in the Spanish culture and its language. In fourth grade, I went on an exchange to Seville. In my gap year I previously lived in Barcelona for two months. The reason I chose to go to Barcelona again this semester is to broaden my frame of reference, both personally and professionally by working in the social sector in another country. Moreover, I don't consider two months living abroad is enough to really understand what it's like live abroad. Now that I have been there for eight months, I can also gain insight into both the local culture and the working culture of Catalonia.'

'Besides, it is of course a big step out of my comfort zone. I grew up in Amsterdam and have my friends and family living there. When I arrived in Barcelona, I didn't know anyone. However, I get to know new people every day, make new friends and so I also learn a lot of new things about myself.'

'At the same time, the language has also been a big motivation to go to a Spanish-speaking country. I am half Mexican, but I never grew up with the language. My Spanish has already improved a lot since living here, yet I also have to say that Catalonia is not necessarily the best place to improve your Spanish; English is spoken a lot and outside the city, the main language is usually Catalan.'

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What can you tell all about your internship?

'That it's the most fun internship of all! Haha. I am doing an internship at a NGO that focuses on the integration of migrants and refugees. Different projects are running within the institution, which makes my internship very interesting. I have the chance to take part of each project, which allows me to learn a lot about the Spanish working culture and about the nonprofit sector.'

'I am currently involved in two projects. The first project, MigraCode, is a programming course for migrants to increase their chances in the workplace. Alongside this, we also offer psychosocial support and I am directly involved in this. My job is to provide help in the mental, educational and legal fields.'

'The second project takes place outside Barcelona. In this project, Youth4All, we offer various classes and courses for Moroccan young people who mostly came to Spain underaged. This project also aims to give young people more opportunities in society and in the labour market. In both projects, is it my responsibility to be the first point of contact: based on what the clients tell me, I see what they need and where I can refer them.'

What do you think are the biggest differences between Barcelona and the Netherlands?

'Life here is much more relaxed than in the Netherlands. Here, it is not all about work and making money. It also focuses a lot on family and good food. Or while Spanish people enjoy spending time together. Furthermore, life in general takes place much more in the open air. It is often said that the quality of life is higher in the Netherlands, and for some people this could be true. I just think that the concept 'quality' is subjective. Each individual will have a different definition. For example, I personally found out that I can live a good life in Spain and really enjoy the Spanish culture and its liveliness, which I often miss in the Netherlands.'



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What did you expect from life in Barcelona and did it match reality?

'I have been to Barcelona before, therefore I had some idea of what life would be like. Still, working in another country is quite a different story. It's true that things are often less structured here. In fact, I would even dare to say that sometimes it is chaos. Both inside and outside the workplace, there is always something happening in Barcelona. The streets are always busy and there is always something going on. While I can enjoy this immensely, it can also be overwhelming sometimes. I hadn't taken this into account very much in beforehand. What helps for me is creating regularity, which keeps me more in balance.'

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Do you already have tips for the next AE batch coming to Barcelona?

'Definitely! Think before arriving in Barcelona about  what you embraced from the Netherlands and what you don’t. What qualities will I take with me? But also think about what you'd rather leave behind in the Netherlands. Prepare yourself that it won't be all fun and flattering. You will miss your friends and family. However in return, you will get wonderful memories and new friends. You are going to learn a huge amount about another culture but also about yourself. And this you will end up remembering. Barcelona is a great and living city: time flies by so enjoy every moment!'

What has been the most teachable moment for you during your internship so far?

'The most teachable moments for me are those when I am confronted with inequality. This is in the social work field, unfortunately, quite often. I notice that I experience this even more heavily in Spain. I often realize how privileged I am. Furthermore, I understand that I have several privileges that I may not have thought about before as much as I do now. I sometimes find it hard to accept the inequality. However it makes me try to turn it around by being grateful for what I have and giving and helping where I can. As I am doing now.'

How did you meet new people and how quickly did that happen?

'At my internship, I work with a very young and diverse team. There are employed people, interns and volunteers from all over the world. I have colleagues from Spain, Afghanistan, France, Venezuela, the Netherlands, Italy and Australia that I get on well with. Besides, if you go to a bar or club in Barcelona, you are guaranteed to meet new people. I have some friends through my internship, from the city but also through the app Bumble. That's a kind of dating app but for friends! This app is super useful because you can immediately see if you have matching interests. For example, I really like salsa dancing, so if I see that there’s someone else with the same interests, it's fun to do that together.'

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Why do you think students should do an internship abroad?

'As I mentioned earlier, it broadens your frame of reference. It gives you the chance to fully immerse yourself in other (work) culture. This experience will teach you to view situations from different perspectives. Also, you take a huge step out of your comfort zone, which may also make you feel uncomfortable at times, but in the end you only grow from that. Finally, you will make memories and new friendships that you will take with you for life and always be grateful for!'

'You will make memories and new friendships that you will take with you for life and always be grateful for!'

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How did you experience the service of AE Internships and would you recommend it to others?

'Yes, I would recommend it definitely to others. I have already written an extensive review on Google review about the service of AE Internships. I find that AE Internships often check in with me and helped me enormously with everything that comes along with looking for an internship. Even after all the arrangements of my internship you still kept in touch with me several times to make sure everything was going well. In a very short time you found an internship that fits my profile and interests.'

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After reading the blog 'The Abroad Experience of Tiare' you became interested in an internship in Barcelona? Register now and plan a FREE introductory meeting with one of our Barcelona experts. See you soon!

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