“Going away for a while!”
Being a student can be a really fun and interesting experience; how do you ask?
There are so many opportunities to improve yourself (if you want to). I always wanted to go and study abroad; a new country, new culture, new friends; a whole new experience! Sounds like an amazing journey, right?
It sounded to me…
The thought of (“okay I really should go!”) about the internship started in October of 2019! I always wanted to study abroad during my bachelor’s degree! Up until that point I haven’t had any time to go but, during the spring of 2020, I finally had an open window to do it (but not an entire semester).
So I found out that when doing an internship, instead of studying, I can be gone less than a whole semester, so I started to look at different options according to my studies (I study physical education).
Searching for internship options
We have many internship links in our university homepage, so I looked at all of the options and sent emails to see who would respond. One day I found an available internship from a sports event organizer in Lisbon (fun fact: in 2017 I was sailing in Portugal), so I sent my CV to them (seemed like it was okay on their behalf), because shortly after we scheduled an interview and one thing lead to another… finally everything seemed to be okay for me as well as them! I told them how long I could stay (2 and half months) and that I agree with the terms. People were really friendly and easy to talk to while we tried to find the best solution.
Finding a place to stay
So now I needed to find a place to live. In the beginning, I was thinking of staying in a dormitory but I found out I couldn’t, because I wasn’t a student, I was an intern! Because when you are an intern, you’re not there to study, you’re there to work! The other options were either a cheap motel or an apartment! I did not want to be together with many people, so a motel was not an option. Remaining option; an apartment.
It was really easy to find an apartment because the place where I started to do my internship also had a housing department! I wrote them and explained my situation, and also my budget, so they helped me the best they could in finding an apartment! The first month I had the room for myself, next two I was sharing (my internship was 2 and half months), so this way I could save some money.
How was the apartment?
It was great and also quite big… we had 13 people over there, one big living room, a kitchen, and four bathrooms; the price was good and the rooms were nice, so I took it.
Before the internship
All of the previous actions started 3 months before! First I had already figured out that I need to do long-distance studying, which means every 2 and half months, I would have one week of school, which gave me just enough time to be in Portugal and keep studying at the same time. I know it might sound stupid but it was necessary. Before I left I did my first week of long-distance studying and after the school day ended I ran to the airport and catched the plane off to Portugal.
Getting there and first weeks
January 12th my plane left from Estonia to Portugal! I arrived late in the evening so I had a little trouble finding the apartment but in the end, I found it, so everything went well! The next day I went to the internship place and it was called Erasmus life of Lisboa! I got to know the people who were working there and also what I needed to do and how everything works over there. Seemed alright and then I met a person who was the sports event organizer before me and she showed me Lisbon, where the events are, and what I needed to do specifically! She made everything easy and understandable. The next two weeks revolved more around getting to know our roles and our team! We had team-building events and also dinners to get to know each other. Grow together as a team!
What I was doing there?
My main task was organizing sports events; we had surfing, climbing, yoga, zumba, football and basketball every week! I was also a part of other events like dinners, wine tasting, walking tours and pub crawls! We organized the events for students; most of them were there due to the Erasmus program and wanted to see as much Portugal as they could! So we made this possible for them and also a little bit easier because ELL (Erasmus Life of Lisboa) was organizing all sorts of trips to Spain and other different cities in Portugal, making the student’s time there as interesting and fun as possible.
February was the welcome month for students. A new semester had started so we had many events because students wanted to get to know each other and also explore Lisbon. It was such a great time.
Some of the events that we had
In Estonia we do not celebrate it, so it was a new experience for me! It was such an amazing event. Everyone had cool costumes, the theme for this year’s party was “Magic & Fantasy” and it took place outside of Lisbon in a city called Torres Vedras! I was a policeman (with a hat, gun, and mustache)! It lasted all night long and it was one hell of a crazy night (in the next morning was pretty hard to get up! 🙂
The first time I tried surfing was in Bali, Indonesia (2019). There, my friend who had already surfed for some time, showed me how it was done. Back then I only had a week to surf. In Portugal, I had a chance to do it every free day (mostly weekends)! + Twice a month we had surfing events for the students where most of them tried it for the first time!
It was so much fun but of course, the first time it’s quite hard. I usually rented a board and wetsuit for all day or half of the day! Got some nice suntan as well. Fun fact: Nazaré (a city in Portugal) has the world’s biggest waves, the surfing world record was achieved by Rodrigo Koxa from Brazil! I did not try surfing over there… of course, no one would let me anyways, and also I wanted to keep on living. Before I came to Portugal I had no idea that it was so famous for surfing and that people surfed there all year round! As an Estonian, the water was not so cold.
Walking tours + trips
Okay so walking tours are a great way to see different places in Lisbon and also to get to know history. Some of these tours took place inside of Lisbon, and some outside! Overall the places we went to were amazing, and as I previously said, there were also trips to Spain and different cities in Portugal!
Also a lot of parties
What do students like to do? Exactly, party and have fun! We also had many fun activities for the students which gave them a chance to see Portugal’s nightlife, which is crazy by the way (in a good way)! Portugal has a famous pink street where all the bars are! Easy to recognize… the street is pink.
Last weeks in portugal
Time flew fast over there… I looked at the calendar and I was surprised that soon I had to pack my stuff and head back home. For the last week, me and my friends from Estonia (who had bought plane tickets a month earlier) had a plan to do a little trip around Portugal, just to discover and have fun! What happened in the end?
A virus changed the plans
Like we all know now, March was the month when the coronavirus took over everywhere and caused a lot of panics! People got sick faster and faster; it just spread so rapidly! At the beginning of March, it seemed that maybe we could still do our trip, but the world changed fast, and every day there was new information about this pandemic!
Finally, we had to cancel our trip plans and postponed them to the future! Luckily my internship was ending as well (just in time when all the countries were closing their borders)! I just needed to book a new flight a few days in advance (the one I had was canceled)! So I arrived home on the 20th of march and I have to be in quarantine for 2 weeks. Some well-needed rest!
what did I learned from this experience?
When you’re a student, I recommend that you study or do an internship abroad! Why? Because when you’re a student, you don’t have many things in your life that are holding you back from going a few months away from home! Also, you get a scholarship from your school… which helps to cover the expenses!
3 reasons why i recommend ERASMUS internship
1. Seeing other countries
Most of the time we go on vacation but for how long? Usually between 1-2 weeks. When studying abroad, you can go for 2-6 months or longer! That way you can see the country and get to know it! Maybe you even learn their local language? (Would not be bad at all)
2. New People
It is just an amazing chance to speak different languages! For sure you are going to meet a lot of new people and everyone has a different background! You are going to find out how amazing life can be. Also, you are going to make new friends so be prepared. It’s great to have friends from all around the world and maybe you find the love of your life that way, you never know.
3. Experience of a lifetime
Going away for a while and being alone (without family and your usual friends) can sound terrifying, but think about how much you can grow, how many wonderful places you can visit, how you can get better at different languages, how much more independent you are after all that and how much it can add value to you as a whole…You can add this to your resume. It is one of the best experiences in your life!
If you ever doubt going to study abroad then do not hesitate to do it! It is an experience that you are going to remember for the rest of your life! Take the challenge and just do it!