Halftime is reached, two weeks are over and the Continental plant Mechelen (Belgium) did an extremely good job offering me the best internship experience  I’ve ever had so far.  With their very well planned internship they contributed to my wanderlust and it also let me very excited for my personal highlight – living and working for two weeks in Spain.

Ana and Pedro (our guest families) waiting for us at the train sation

Although saying goodbye to Belgium in the end was not that easy, it felt very good to go abroad with the TGV train which was heading towards Spain. At the same moment the train crossed the French boarder, my excitement grew. While transiting the country with approximately 300 km/h, I recognized a stunning beautiful change in the landscape of France. The landscapte shifted from a green undulating rural area with lots of small villages and mountain cabins to a more Mediterranean landscape in the southern parts of the country. The mountains disappeared and gave place for a more flat area with palms, bushes and villages with the typical architecture of the south. This may sounds obvious to you, but it was my first impression from Spain and a new adventure is near. Oh, and by the way, I also noticed a steady increase in temperature.

When we arrived at Barcelona Sants (train station), we were welcomed by our guest families Ana and Pedro and the country ambassador Gemma. Different cultures also bring different customs. That was perfectly demonstrated as we were greeted by a kiss – a gesture which is not so common in Germany and we had to get used to. Thanks to my lovely guest family it took me more or less one day to adapt to the new country and to feel very well.

Between arrival and work was very little time and I was also a little exhausted by the journey, so there is not much to tell and I can move straight on and tell you something about the work which started the next morning. Due to the fact that I’m living in a very rural area in Germany, this morning was the first time I’ve ever experienced what crowded highways with thousands over thousands of commuters driving to their work really mean: very slow traffic (the fact that our highway also connects Barcelona should explain it!). The skill to find alternative routes is very helpfull and kind of “survival technique” as well which Ana mastered very well. So we had managed to get to Continental in time. The first day at Continental Rubí was very nice. The Continental plant was explained to us and we were introduced to the production of the electronic part.

I had been deployed at the maintenance tool workshop, where I had to work with three very friendly and nice colleagues. Basically, the main task of the tool shop was to construct and build special facilities for the different production lines. This includes a vast variety of different tables, shelves and other facilities to support the production in many different ways. The task of my colleagues in the tool shop was to construct a new tool, table or something else whenever it was needed – and you can trust me, in such a huge production there is always need for many new facilities. So I never got bored! Which was good for me because I had been given my own tasks. I did a lot of those special tables and shelves. This task included a lot of metal work, because those tables are build with different aluminium bars or tubes and then needed to be attached together. This was my work for the whole time in Rubí and I enjoyed it a lot. It was a very different task from what I’m planning to do in my future but I had the opportunity to learn a lot about metal works and to experience what I’m capable of. For example, I’ve learned how to use saws properly and to always cut the aluminium bars with the correct length needed – that is something you definitely have to train. Showing me new aspects in my life (in this case the metal work) was good for me and I always appreciate new things to learn.

But the internship was way more than only learning how to work in a Improvement Workshop with tools and metal bars. For me – and this was also one of the purposes of the project – it was also about working together with people. To connect to them in work-related ways but also in a way which made us somehow friends. It was a lot of fun to try to talk to them in Spanish and somehow understand the task. In the end it always worked out perfectly. Every day I was glad to start working again – which would not have been the case when, for example, I had to work alone. This project showed me that working in a department with interesting work is not all, it is also about the colleagues and teamwork.

Additionally, I’ve also enjoyed the different culture a lot. It was a stay in Spain for two weeks which I will never forget. This opportunity was unique and I’m very glad that I was a part of it. I can assure you that I’m now richer – not in money, but in experience and knowledge which will be helpful for the rest of my life. I’ve always wanted to go out and see the world, but never had the chance to do so. The “We l.o.v.e Europe” project is like a turning point in my life and also a starting point for my career. I’ve always considered living in a different country but now I’m sure that this has to happen someday in my life. The combination of work in a different country with many different people and their own specific customs made me happy. I have enjoyed it so much that I want to be a part of it too. I think, this project helped me to not only get more certain of what I want to do in my future work life but also to develop myself very much over this rather short period of time. I’m going to miss Spain, my guest family and my colleagues. Thank you for offering me this opportunity!

Stephen Plato.

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