“During my Erasmus study period, I went to Santander, in the north of Spain, at the Universidad de Cantabria. The faculty name is Administración y Dirección de Empresas and the modules I chose were mainly focused on marketing, international strategy and how to create your own business, plus the Spanish Intensive course at level C1. All the modules were taught in Spanish, which I thought was really good in order to improve the language.
The Spanish university system is very different from the UK. There is no difference between lectures and seminars, you only have seminars in which the tutor explains through a Power Point presentation and asks questions at the same time. The students are also expected to ask questions if something isn’t clear of anything related to the specific topic. The first assessment for all business modules were group presentations, which allowed me to get to know Spanish students and build a relationship with them, also out of the university. Erasmus students also presented in class, having a few minutes extra but always in Spanish. I believe this was also a great way to improve Spanish. The second assessment for the modules was an exam. The exams were composed of short answer questions or multiple choices, nothing impossible!
Moreover, the Spanish course was very useful as it focused on grammar rules but also on the communication ability. This course has helped me loads for my work placement.
Santander was a relatively small city but great to go out. It has a great beach and, even though it’s quite cold in the winter, you’ll make the most of it in the spring/summer time. There are some amazing landscapes and places to visit in Santander and its region, Cantabria.
I then started my placement in the Purchasing department in the Headquarters of NH Hotel Group in Madrid in June 2014. NH Hotel Group is one of the top 25 chains in the world and one of the main ones in Europe. NH Hotel Group operates almost 400 hotels with around 60,000 rooms in 28 countries across Europe, America and Africa. The company stands out in quality both as regards to services and facilities, with carefully thought out decoration, intended to please all tastes and making the guest feel comfortable. NH Hotel Group establishments are equipped with the most advanced technology to facilitate communication, work and entertainment for its clients.
My main tasks were to give support to the Corporate Purchasing Department by managing the strategic sourcing and purchasing of the international contracts for all hotels in 28 different countries. I start and follow tendering processes of different categories of goods and services all around the world and, following the awarding of a supplier, classify and draw up contracts, agreements and product sheets to be communicated to all business units. I also helped the directors of the different business units with their issues and resolve incidents with international suppliers.
I believe that the highlight of my placement is being able to directly manage an international tender for a 1.5 million € contract. I was directly responsible for the whole tender process and assisted in the awarding decision.
I also got to know so many Spanish people that were also interns in NH and made strong friendships. The working environment was great and the presence of so many young people made it easier to adapt and participate in the different activities.
A tip I would give for finding accommodation is to look for a Spanish roommate in order to improve the language skills and to fully get to know the Spanish culture. The main websites I search for houses on were: fotocasa.es; idealista.com; pisos.com; enalquiler.com.
Regarding Madrid and Santander, I believe they are both great cities to live in. There is always something to do and many activities to share with other people. Moreover, the people here are great and always very kind and helpful. Being Madrid an European capital, you can also find people from all over the world who are working here or young students who are here in Erasmus, therefore you will have no problems with enjoying the social life!!
Being back at SHU for my final year is quite strange. It seems that everything has changed and mainly I have changed completely after this amazing experience. Erasmus allows you to know so many people from different cultures and with different lives and experiences to share with you. Living alone and working in a foreign country also allowed me to mature so much faster.
It is difficult at first to get back into the university routine, however everything is focused towards your future as a professional which helps and pushes you to do your best in order to obtain the best after uni.
I really encourage you to go on Erasmus because it is an amazing and life changing experience!”