My work placement in Spain

By Aine O’Neill

As part of my BA in English and History at the University of Limerick, it is mandatory to do a cooperative placement. Although you have the option to do this placement in Ireland, I luckily was picked to go to Spain! There are many companies which collaborate with UL for placement, for all aspects of any Arts degree. Through the University, I was set up with a company called Meddeas. This company specialises in sending students to Spanish schools to be a language assistant.

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So I’m now in the province of Cadiz, the sunniest part of Spain. Among my many duties at the school I am there to improve the children’s English skills. I work with children aged 1 -5 years old, they are enthusiastic about the language and are always trying to communicate with me. I have conversations with them in English and do activities with them.

I live with a host family which has made me feel right at home, although of course nothing beats the comfort of your own home (or dog). It is nice to have the support and dynamic of a family even when it feels like you’re a million miles away from yours!

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The culture shock is perhaps the most interesting parts of my cooperative placement, no more potatoes or Cadburys and I am now a far cry from the coffee at the Eden café. The Spanish culture is one you have to immerse yourself in, the people; their way of life and their food are all things I hope to take back to Limerick with me. The most glorious aspect of placement is the Spanish weather, it seems like yesterday I was walking through the UL campus with a heavy coat from the rain but now the only worry I have is what pair of sunglasses to wear!

My Arts degree at UL has not only has given me the opportunity to make friends, travel and work with a language – which I love – but it has also giving me grounding for the real world of work. I am thankful for this opportunity which UL has made possible for me, it will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Until my next blog, Adios!

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My Co-op in Cologne

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Elle Walsh is a 2nd year Applied Languages student at the University of Limerick. She is currently off campus on her Co-cop placament in Cologne, Germany. Here she gives us a review of her first few weeks away from UL:

“Coop chooses you, unfortunately you don’t get to choose your coop. You select a host destination and the coop office organize interviews for you and you are placed wherever you are successful. For me, I was lucky and got my placement on my first interview meaning I had lots of time to prepare. I am working in a Kindergarten in the German city of Cologne (Köln) and thankfully I love it.

When I began the process of applying for coop I was adamant that I didn’t want to work in a kindergarten after having a traumatizing experience au pairing however I was successful in my first interview meaning that unless I wanted to find my own placement I was off to Cologne.

Come January first  I was on my way to becoming a full time kindergarten teacher. After spending my first month here I am so happy that you are made to take your first offer. The job is so rewarding and I come home everyday feeling a bit tired but never stressed out or unhappy with how the day has been. The working environment is warm and friendly with a real family atmosphere.

For me the biggest thing that I have learned so far from my coop placement is to stay open minded and take every opportunity that comes your way. If I had had the opportunity to turn this teaching position down I would have but now that I am here I am very happy to be spending the next five months in this role!

If I could offer any advice for students thinking about going on coop to a foreign country it would be to remember to be open minded, for me I wanted to go to a bigger city like Hamburg or Berlin and wasn’t so keen on the idea of Cologne a smaller city that I didn’t know that much about. However after being here for the past month I really love it and even have started to prefer it to Berlin. Co-op is all about learning to become an adult and finding out how to take part in the world around you independently and although I don’t think I will pursue early childhood education as a further career I am very thankful to have this opportunity!”

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Elle Walsh is a 2nd year Applied Languages student studying French, German and Politics at the University of Limerick. Last year, Elle took a gap year to improve her language skills and travel around Europe.