Why doing an internship abroad matters – My story at Euroventure
Just back from 5 months Norway, it was time for me to go abroad for another 5 months. So, early January 2019, I started my internship for Euroventure Travel. I said goodbye to my dog, gave my parents a kiss, and gave my brother an uncomfortable hug, and set off to Leeds, UK. The flight was only 50 minutes. Arrived and well, I had to get used of driving on the other side of the road and the British accent all around me, and everyone discussing Brexit.
You might think, why on earth would you come to the UK, at this time of all times, when there is a whole world of countries to choose from… Well… let me explain.
Why I chose Euroventure
After being ignored by tons of companies, I figured, who needs big companies anyways. I deliberately choose to do my internship for a smaller company, because it gives you more options to learn and increase your own experience and abilities. You are not dumped in some big department and given some tasks, no. You belong to a team and you are valued in your way and that you are there to learn. But still, you are treated as an equal and not ‘the intern’. That is how I ended up at Euroventure. Truly, even though I am doing an internship and do not earn any money, it still feels like I am a real employee. And that was what I was looking for.
This is, especially today, super important. Companies expect you to already start working when you are five years old. Experience is vital when you want someone to even look at your resume, even when you’ve just graduated. How they even think that is possible will always remain a question to me, since most companies do not even bother to take in interns, while they could be a fresh and good asset, with good ideas. Gaining experience like this, in a small company, for a longer time, will give you more opportunities and skills to show to a possible employer.
I just love how you get a taste of everything, and how much opportunities I have had, only just after 10 weeks in my internship. I almost dare say I have learned just as much as the last 2 and a half year of school. Not only as in work-related-things but also life-related things!
What Euroventure does
So, for those of you not knowing Euroventure that well, that is ok! Euroventure is this lovely company from the UK, selling bespoke Interrail Trips. For those of you not knowing what that is… travelling by train through Europe on one single pass.
Euroventure is not only pioneering in this area of travelling, they are also currently dominating the Interrailing market in the UK and beyond. Which I think is impressive, considering they only have 8 regular employees and a few interns!
Personally, I think the small team is what makes them so successful (if you do not count the extensive travel experience in). I think that because there are not that much people, they are really dedicated to their work, and truly want their customers to have a good time, instead of only making money from them. Every little step is considered and made as personal as possible. Not only this, but the small team makes you feel welcome and cared for. When you have a skill no one else has, they are all so grateful for you to help them out, however small the issue.
So Euroventure sells Interrail Trips, right, but you can also create your own trip. And above that, you can also choose to go on a group tour! Good for those who are abandoned last minute by their friends. On their group tours, they send their own group leader with the group. To make everything as safe as possible and creating the best experience for their customers.
Before Euroventure ever decided to cooperate with any hostel anywhere, they check them out themselves first. Which I think is amazing. We have all seen the horror stories on tv, thinking you’d end up in this wonderful beach site hotel, but ending up in some nasty place in a dark alley.
Reading about all of this in the job description to which I applied made me very enthusiastic. The love for travelling is insane, and there are always stories coming up about something totally random that happened on a trip somewhere. A good laugh and nice people, good experiences and travel, that is what it is all about!
What this all has taught me
Going abroad by yourself for any purpose that is not travelling, must not be underestimated, ever. Everyone expects it is all fun and games, light and breezy, and I always feel burdened to tell people different. Don’t get me wrong, it is a beautiful experience. Still, everyone forgets how you are sitting in a country with different customs, different language, different values, different politics, different everything. Torn away from your comfort and hiding places, into the open field, left to forge your own sword and fight your way through whatever you are doing.
Still, I would never turn my choices around. I love to get to know myself, and I praise myself so lucky having found this internship, with lovely people in a lovely organisation, in a lovely house. I love how we do so much together and have so much fun. That makes being abroad less hard.
Till now I have learned tons and tons of things. Too many to list. But I will tell the most important ones. Of course, I could tell I am a whole new different person who is hugging trees now, commits to some unknown religion, tells everyone I’ve been to some amazing places and will become a nomad. Because that is not what happens. I have learned that going abroad all by yourself, means you must figure everything out by yourself and can only depend on yourself and your attitude towards what you are doing. I told myself that having a negative attitude will not get me anywhere, nagging about how much I hate to leave my friends, how I will miss my sports which I did 5 days a week and might maybe never get back on that level I was, my dog, my parents, my home, will not make my life any easier. And not only for the time I am here, but for the rest of my life. A negative attitude is not getting me anywhere, and I always get annoyed when people only complain but never see the bright side.
The next thing I learned is how much I value the comfort and the way things are cared for back home in the Netherlands. I used to complain about things very often, but I do worship the Public Transport we have, the good food, the bikes, the weather, our government, our silly way of talking, or attitude of cut the crap and just do it, the plastic- and take-away-leftovers-free streets of my city. I don’t want to attack England, but have you ever seen the mess on the streets? Everything that should be in the litterbox lies next it, glass everywhere, mess everywhere.
And maybe a weird one is this one. I have learned to value how much a government is doing for you when you look at the mess that is going on in the world from a distance. When I look at May, I see a woman with a chronic shortage of sleep, fed up with a task she didn’t vote for, but tries to make her way through the unsteady opinions of the people in her country. Even though it seems she is not listening to the people, she tries to do what they wanted in the first place: get them out of the EU with politically possible terms. I have never understood why people do not get it. They demand you to have a blue skin, even thought that is not possible in any way, and then get angry with you because you cannot get a blue skin. The same happens back home but since I have been gone, I’ve realised how much common sense our prime minister has and how much he tries to do with the resources and people available.
I’ve also learned that being yourself is so so so important. People notice it straight away when you are pretending to be someone else and not enjoying what you do at all!
Why working in an international sphere is important
Going abroad makes you think about aspects in life you would have never thought about. It teaches you things you will never learn in school. You will learn how to deal with your own sh*t and others’ at the same time. Because being abroad alone, does also mean other people will miss you, and tell you that every day, how much they want you to come back, which makes you feel guilty of being gone in the first place. It made me realise how much we are pleasing other people all the time. It also taught me to respect people, even those who you do not like, and to treat them the way you would like to be treated.
All of this is not only because I have been in another country. People also tend to forget that people from different countries have different ways of doing things. I think it is very important to work in an environment with international staff. There are many reasons why I value this, and not only because it gives you a network and not to be able to tell your friends you know someone from this and that place. For me, it is important to learn how to deal with people who have different values and customs in their daily lives. For example, I notice now that I am quite direct, when I do not agree with something or have an idea or think something else, I just say it. It is all the small things, for example, seeing how no one cares to take their bike to work here and does everything by car, even small distances. How there is no refundable money on plastic bottles, so people end up throwing them in bushes. You learn how different countries work, and you learn to see beyond people’s actions and beliefs. You learn to respect people for how they are, and you learn from their ways of doing things. Not only this, but it also increases your ability to think about solutions, not only in your daily life but also on bigger scales. Honestly, I think, if people only bothered to go abroad, even for two months, the world would be a much better place.
I truly enjoy being abroad, as many things that are hard, there are loads of things that are great. I like to explore new places, to meet new people, to get used to different lives, to do things I normally would not have done. I love to be challenged and to find out new ways to do things. And I absolutely love to learn that if I just depend on myself and believe in what I am capable of, I can do anything.
Even if I miss my dog,
And mum, dad and brother and boyfriend,
Words by Nienke Schuur