Outgoing Students 27.01.23

Erasmus+ Traineeship: Working in Barcelona

When MSc Marketing student, Rob Cleary, took part in an Erasmus+ traineeship as part of his degree, we asked him all about living and working in the beautiful Spanish city of Barcelona. Here's what he had to say about his experience...

Student outside a cathedral in Barcelona

How have you found your work abroad experience?

I have found the whole experience positive. I have thoroughly enjoyed working abroad and I am grateful for the opportunities that the Erasmus team at Salford have provided. Without the funding, I would have found it difficult to stay in Barcelona as the rent is quite high compared to other parts of Spain. As part of my Marketing Master’s Degree, I was required to base my dissertation on the work placement; I believe this greatly improved my understanding of my job and helped me to excel further which ultimately led to me being promoted twice within 12 months. 

The most difficult part about moving to any country is the preparation and the arrival arrangements. I would advise anyone moving abroad to give themselves at least a week before they are meant to start studying/working to allow them to find accommodation, sort out the necessary paperwork, set-up a bank account and get a mobile number. I would also advise any newcomer to come with some savings to help them set-up (deposits, buying furniture, transportation costs).

What are the main differences in the teaching/working styles?

The whole working atmosphere does not feel as tense or stressful. I also have found that many offices are very casual in comparison to the UK. It’s very rare to find people in suits and ties etc., but that may just be due to the fact I work in Digital Marketing. 

How have you found making friends; have you joined any particular societies, for example?

At first it was a little hard because I was the only British person in my company - everyone was either French, Spanish, Italian, Polish or from South America. I felt a little alienated, however I did have some friends from the UK already living here so I latched on to them just to get me started. There are hundreds of groups you can join on Facebook such as “Expats in Barcelona” or “New to Barcelona”. These are a great start; however, you will probably find that your friends will all be from university or the office you work in. After the first couple of months I found myself with several groups of friends; I have my British ones, work friends, my flatmates and other people I’ve met along the way. I would not recommend living on your own, especially at the start of your experience, because this will limit your opportunities of meeting people. Barcelona, like many Spanish cities, is an extremely social city and everyone goes for drinks or food after work together. There are constantly events which bring people together and I would say overall it is very easy to make friends. Of course, this depends on you putting yourself out there – you can’t make friends if you don’t take people up on their offers or if you don’t make the first move with your flatmates/colleagues/classmates. You only get out what you put in. 

What’s the best thing about doing study or work abroad?

I would have to say the best thing about the company I was working for is the people. I am surrounded by people from all parts of the world and I have learnt a great deal from them, professionally and personally. I also enjoy the language classes that were provided when I started; at one point I was learning French, Spanish and Italian at my office every day. Also, the company I worked for, Natexo, threw me in at the deep end from day one, which meant I learnt from my mistakes quickly, which led to more and more responsibility. I would say they don’t babysit you as much as they may do in the UK. Opinions are listened to at my company, which is something I wasn’t used to due to the management styles and company models I had previously experienced in the UK.

 It’s been a truly eye-opening experience and one I will never forget. I would urge anyone considering studying/working abroad to do it. I can’t put into words what it will do for you, as you will have to discover it for yourself and everyone’s journey is different. But I will say that it will definitely benefit you in one way or another. Yes, it looks great on your CV, but it will also shape you as a person immensely. You learn a lot about others and their cultures when you live abroad, but you also learn a lot about yourself.