By Chandni Soren, BA (Hons) Interior Design, 3rd year
Hey all! My name’s Chandni, I’m in my third year studying Interior Design, and I’m about to start a placement year in Barcelona. I want to share with you how I found my placement, as well as a few tips on getting ready!
FINDING THE PLACEMENT
I have always wanted to live in Spain having learned Spanish at school, so this placement year gave me the perfect opportunity to make this dream a reality!
When I decided I wanted to spend a year abroad, I went to speak to a careers adviser. She told me about the ‘Erasmus Intern’ site – a European Union student exchange programme that is partly government funded. I began applying for placements abroad using this site, and followed them up with emails and phone calls.
I’m not going to lie to you, I had to contact a lot of different companies before I finally found a placement, but it was all worth it! Don’t give up if you don’t receive any responses back straight away- you have to keep trying and eventually the right thing will come up.
In my case, I eventually ended up typing “best interior design firms in Barcelona” into Google and applying for five of the firms that came up. Luckily one said yes! The firm is called Sara Folch Interior Design, and I managed to secure a placement with them.
I started saving up money from my various part-time jobs while at uni. There were no course fees for doing a placement year, and I still received my maintenance loan. There was a lot of funding I could apply for with Hallam, namely the ‘Go Global Fund’ and ‘Erasmus Funding’. Both application forms were extensive, but they were definitely worth it as the process helped me budget for my trip and I was successful in my applications. This was a bit daunting, but I was able to ask a previous Erasmus student for advice (thank you Elle Stocks!), and the pre-departure staff are very helpful- so don’t worry!
The pre-departure presentations and online information given by the placement team tell you a lot of what you need to know! I would definitely look at those and make notes. Make sure you have travel insurance especially if you are travelling before or after your placement dates (as sometimes this isn’t included in the university travel insurance). And make sure your passport is up to date for the time you are away!
I was advised by Erasmus students to book an Airbnb and to look properly upon arrival in Barcelona to avoid being scammed. I was also given lots of site recommendations from friends, family and my boss who lived in Spain (Pisocompartido, Idealista and Badi App). Surprisingly, I found that looking in September was still too early as people wanted someone to move in straight away, and some didn’t reply or the adverts were old. I then found an option to advertise myself on Pisocompartido and people contacted me, however unfortunately this resulted in a scam and I lost a fair bit of money.
Thanks to the generosity of my friends and family who bought and commissioned paintings I was selling to earn money to fund my trip, and donations on my ‘Go Fund Me page’, I earned back the money I had lost. THANK YOU!! I am now going to stay with some family friends of a friend for a month, which is about 45 mins from work. I am then either going to flat hunt once in Spain or I might stay on there!
SUPPORT & THOUGHTS
I have managed to find a few friends who have relatives or friends in Spain, and I have acquired their contact details for emergencies. I also have an aunty who lives in Madrid. The placement team and my tutor will also be in touch at various points throughout the year to check my progress.
So how am I feeling? I’m very excited to start working at the firm and start exploring Barcelona. The one thing that worries me is trying to meet people, but I’m also looking forward to making new friends. I’m going to go to salsa, which I can’t wait for having learnt salsa whilst at uni!
I am quite nervous about starting all over again and getting used to being on my own after having a summer surrounded by family and friends. Luckily all of which want to visit me! And I’m going to try and set up a Ju Jitsu club as I’m already an instructor, so that will also be a good way to meet people and practice my Spanish!
Look out for my next post on my first impressions of Barcelona!