This has taken some time because I needed to go through my notes and reflect the feedback I was given. I also had my partner (now a fiancé) visit me in the end of my practice/placement so you could say I have been a little overwhelmed! 🙂
First, my goals and objectives for this exchange were that I wanted to do my only placement (the rest I didn’t need to do because of previous work experience) in a foreign language, to learn and experience different learning contents, improve my skills in Spanish, enhance my future employability abroad and build up my personal and professional network.
My objectives for my practice were a little different. I wanted to learn how Fundación Tomillo works, what laws & norms they use, what programs they have, where and how they work. I also wanted to plan and implement something, so later I planned nature cosmetic workshops among other things. I also wanted to learn how their participatory budgeting works and how the process could be developed for the youth and also improve my Spanish skills and grow/improve my social and sustainable vocabulary.
When we evaluated my placement with my supervisor, we felt that all my own objectives for the placement had been reached. However we both felt that it would have been good if the time period would have been longer. The time went so fast.
I still haven’t taken the language tests again, but I do believe that I have improved my skills! This was something I was complemented many times. 🙂
I was happy to hear that I am spontaneous and that I take initiative, because if you say to me what you want me to do, I will go for it. I think the nicest part of the evaluation is when my supervisor stated that “Annina is a very curious person, who likes to explore new things”.
I was happy with my work placement place. I saw how things are done in Madrid, and with so much smaller budget than for example the youth services in Helsinki. The materials we bought for the nature cosmetic workshops were not given. The budget had to be justified well to actually get the money. Obviously you always have to have a plan and reason for doing something, but I think I learned something about resources and how you should never think they are 100% sure.
I also liked living in Madrid but was sad to feel and see that contamination has reached Madrid. Few years ago I didn’t realize the problem but now my lungs actually hurt sometimes. I also missed forest. Forest and clean air because that we still have in Finland. Climate change rant is another story…
So it was weird to clean my room in the end. The host of my AirBnB actually came from other country back home few weeks before I left and said she is going to move and give the apartment away, so I was her least airbnb client because my lovely roommate moved back to her hometown as well. It was weird to wrap up the whole house and because we had food there we could not use I contacted my placement supervisor and I’m so glad he came to pick some things up to give away for families that need it. It would have been horrible to just throw them away.
My big bag travelled with my partner back to Finland, so I had a smaller bag and laptop when I took the train from Madrid Atocha to Barcelona Saints station. I couchsurfed two days in Barcelona, just for fun and clear my head. I was hoping to come back by train, busses and ferry but those were really expensive (especially train) compared to flying so I flew to Milan first and then Vienna. From Vienna I took a cheap but awesome bus to Krakow and from there I flew back to Finland.
I will write about my trip later on to give some good travelling tips and add some pictures I took on my journey. And now I’m home, a bit confused and I just submitted the exchange raport and EU Survey (Erasmus). I have previously sent the final objectives of work placement and assesment + Erasmus Placement Certificate.
I’m sure I have forgotten to do something, but slowly I will wrap up things and I’m grateful for this experience and would definitely go again. I made good connections and there is a chance we will do some exchange program together with my actual workplace (youth services) here in Helsinki and the Tomillo Foundation. I gladly recommend this place for placement if you speak Spanish, otherwise not so much. I want to thank Juan, Astrid, Ana and all the people who were so helpful and kind. I learned a lot, I will appreciate this experience forever.
Especially thanks to Ana for connecting me with Marti, a professor who I met in Barcelona and he had the time to sit down with me and explain service learning method and how they use it in Catalonia.
As a final thing, here is a link to my blog entry that I wrote for the foundation in the end of my practices and they published it to their main pages: https://tomillo.org/noticias/talleres-de-cosmetica-natural-impartidos-por-ani-estudiante-en-practicas/
During my journey I have learned so much and not just in the practice. I also got to know Madrid in more deeper, personal way. I met amazing people and for all the people who are thinking “hmmm should I do…”
YES YOU SHOULD GO EXCHANGE!
In a modern multicultural World, I feel it’s important to do your studies, placements and professional work in a multilingual environment.
And last but not least: Challenge yourself!