Radka! Are you excited about the interview?
Veeery, it will be the best experience here haha, I feel like a star.
Could you present yourself to your audience?
My name is Radka, I am 24 years old and I believe that SKY IS THE LIMIT. I am from Slovakia, I studied languages, I like freedom, I like travelling, meeting new people, new cultures. In general: I like everything what is new, exploring stuff and so on.
Is it your first time doing internship abroad or some kind of exchange?No, actually not. During University I did many youth exchanges and I did Erasmus in UK, short EVS in Russia, volunteering in Belarus and many youth exchanges, so Spain is not the first one, but it’s amazing experience as well.
Have all those experiences had impact on your decision to come here?Yeah, definitely yeah. I remember, when I decided to come to Spain. It was during my Erasmus in England and during Christmas. I didn’t want to go home, because flight ticket was so expensive and I didn’t want to stay there, because it was a little bit depressive, so I just bought the cheapest fly ticket and it was to Barcelona and the atmosphere of Barcelona was magic… I really like the people, culture, food, really, just walking through the streets it was so amazing. I just realized that Spain is the country that I would like to come back one day and it was the time to graduate, so I had an opportunity to do the internship and I decided to come to Spain.
What are you doing in Spain now?
Just living my dream life hahaha. No, but to be honest I am doing many things here. My internship is connected with translation and interpretation, because I studied it, but actually it’s not only about it. I am learning Spanish here, my main tasks in the organization that is called Mille Cunti are English activities preparation, for example I had classes in high school, then language exchange – Tandem – I am taking care of it, so I am preparing English activities but in informal way to show the people that learning languages is not only boring stuff with a book. So they can talk together, then we have many activities with different group ages; we are working in Centro de Salud and activity is called “Taller de memoria” we are working with them to give them opportunity to do interesting things and practise memory. All of the activities are different, so I can’t compare them, but what I can say about them is that working with various people everyday taught me a lot. Life here is very colorful and I think it is impossible to get bored here.
Do you feel like these 8 months has changed something inside you?
Yes of course! I experienced many things from culture, language, living abroad.. Spanish culture is totally different than slovak one and before coming here I didn’t realize that. But the difference is very clear and I think it had big impact on my personal development. In Slovakia I was in rush, I couldn’t enjoy life like here. It was more stressful and here I have time for everything, I think there is no time limit for me. Before I thought that I am open-minded enough, but by living here I realized I am not that much open-minded.. but I improved it and now I am more tolerant, I am trying to be judgeless and understanding for people as much as I can – these are big benefits for my attitude.
Did you surprise yourself somehow?
When I am thinking about concrete particular situation nothing comes to my mind, but I am pretty sure that yes. For example just by studying spanish I surprised myself a lot, even I couldn’t speak well, I couldn’t understand a lot, but I was trying to speak and I wasn’t shy from the very beginning, I even did workshop in Spanish!
If you could compare your first day here to your last days, what would u say?
It is completely different. When I came here I felt very confident with English and that I can achieve everything just by knowing it, but it was far away from the reality… Because of the language barrier it was much more difficult. For example now I feel more comfortable, because I can speak a bit of Spanish, so I can rely on myself and I also know local people and culture. There is still something that can surprise me, but I feel so much better now.
You said that at the beginning it was a bit difficult. What have you done to overcome this feeling?
I think everything is about the people and language, so learning spanish was necessary and it was my main goal. Step by step it was improving and I was meeting with people, even if it was a bit hard, because I think they are not open-minded enough. I mean they have their own groups and I had the feeling from them that they don’t want to allow me or anyone to enter their group of friends.. They could talk with me and that’s it, they didn’t want me to enter to their friendzone.
That’s interesting. So how did you manage to find friends?
Well, to be honest from the beginning it wasn’t that difficult, because everything was new I was exploring everything. I didn’t care about it so much, but later with time I realized that it is a problem that I don’t have any people to go out, to speak. For example with volunteers it was ok, because we spent a lot of time together, but after some time you just realize that you need more friends and you need meet with people, so it was quite difficult. I think in the end of my project it started improving and with my flatmate Edyta we did really good job, because we initiated meetings with many new people. We were going out a lot and even though it seemed that we didn’t have anyone to meet here, we just realized it wasn’t true, because we went out everyday and we were busy all the time and always with new people.
Can you say that the period of loneliness here was a valuable lesson?
Definitely it’s true, even if it was hard with no friends here, I think it gave me a lot. Now I know how to live alone, I know how to overcome everything by myself, how to solve the problems.
Have you experienced culture shock?
Yeah, culture shock is a real thing. I am from Slovakia, so Slovakia is northern country, I mean not like FInland but comparing to Spain, yeah. Before coming here I thought “Oh, we are all in Europe so it cannot be a big difference” But it was. For me it was very hard from the beginning, because I used to get up in Slovakia around 6/7 o’clock, I had schedule from the morning and I was trying to do as many things as possible in one day… and here it was strange for me to start work at 9 or 10 o’clock. Then while in Slovakia going to bed at 21 o’clock is something quite normal, then here people start to eat dinner at that time and it was for me like – wow, crazy. Then going out for the parties and tapas so often, siesta time – wow it was something completely new. Flexibility of time, being late often… it was a bit hard for me, but with time I used to it and now I can take easy everything. So life here is very chilly.
Did you have any time for travelling during your internship?
Oh yes.. it was very easy, because I think Ciudad Real has very good position, it is almost in the middle of the Spain. Even though travelling by train is very expensive, everything can be managed. I met with my family, they came to visit me, my sister visited me so it was interesting. Then with my friend Edyta we did best trip ever to Toledo by hitchhiking. It was first time we tried it from Ciudad Real to Toledo, it was very nice, because it was so easy to hitchhike and then we stayed there all day. We were planning to hitchhike back, but it was impossible, because it was late night and it was dark. We also had experience with police, so we stayed in Toledo for a one night and then in the morning we tried to hitchhike back to Ciudad Real. It was really hard, people were scared to take us, but I think after two hours someone stopped and it was so spectacular, because we met amazing man with two kids and we were speaking all the way. When he was young, he used to travel a lot. For example he did a trip from Barcelona to Istanbul by bike, we heard a lot of amazing stories from him.Then we repeated it in the summer The best thing was that in Toledo we met one American guy that is a volunteer. He was from USA, he was around 65 years old and during his retirement he just decided to do volunteering. We visited by accident corrida arena and there was an old man working, that showed us corrida arena. I think it was amazing, because it is not so usual for the tourists to see everything from inside, so it was a great opportunity. And during this trip I realized I can speak Spanish. Yeah.. I was travelling a lot, we visited many places, like cities in Andalucia, then Barcelona, Alicante, Valencia..
We were speaking about nice, surprising experiences, so now tell me what was your worst experience here?
Wow this is difficult question, because I am trying to look at things in the way that even worst experience can turns into something good, because you learn that you shouldn’t repeat it and you should avoid it, so I think my time here was really good. Of course there were days and things that I didn’t like, but I think it happens in everyone’s life, doesn’t matter if you are living abroad or not. Even worse experience is a good experience.
Ok, so maybe the best experience will be easier for you?
Meeting Edyta, haha. I think my best experience was simply the decision to come to Spain, because all what happened here was very beneficial to me.
What about the tapas?
Hahahaha when I was in Slovakia I couldn’t understand what tapas is, because in this country you have to pay for everything, even for the toilet,hahaha so I couldn’t understand why they are giving me something for free? For me it is amazing! Because you go out, you drink and you have a small dish for free! I would say it is really important part of Spanish culture and I really like it.
Do you want to come back home now?
No, it is very clear for me, I just want to come back to visit my friends, family, because I haven’t seen them since Christmas. But I would like to stay, because I think that Spain is my country – I really found myself here. And I admire the sunny weather and I am grateful for the lifestyle and the way of enjoying life I learned here!
Do you have any advices for people who are considering to participate in Erasmus projects?
Yeah, go for it! You should do it, because if not now, when?
I know that from the beginning it is very difficult, because you are going to change your life completely from one day to another. You are moving to another country without any knowledge how it will be, language, friends, you are
completely alone. But it’s great beginning to explore something that you don’t know about yourself. Maybe you will find your dream country, you can find love, whatever,you can explore many things! Just try!
Would you like to add something?
Yes, always try and remember: sky is the limit!
After the interview Radka got the proposition to do the project in Indonesia. She will go there for 6 months, teaching English and living with Indonesian family. You never know what life may bring you!
Written by Edyta Jasińska