Lode Devloo - 2016 Program Participant

What inspired you to go abroad?

What inspired me was all the previous abroad experiences! Every travel or trip that I have ever done has left me wanting to go abroad even more. This was the first one that I actually moved to another country to spend more than a month living.

Group discussion at World Work Innovation Conference in Barcelona, Spain
Speaking at the World Work Innovation Conference

Why did you choose Global Experiences?

I found Global Experiences through web searches. Then later a friend told me she had been part of the Global Experiences program and she was very happy about it. The thing that really pulled me over the line was the initial contact with Global Experiences; they were super helpful and friendly! That was, for me, a very good indicator of a good program.

What was your favorite part about Barcelona?

I would say living there, like really living there. Not being a tourist, but living like a local. Having your favourite places or the bakery where they know you, knowing where to go on specific days of the week to have a nice time, a good dinner, or go dancing. Another favourite part was coming into work and feeling like part of a great team working on a very special project! And don't forget the fantastic weather; I spent new year’s day on the beach!

What made your experience abroad unique?

The opportunities I got. Opportunities at my work, opportunities to meet wonderful people, opportunities to be part of great moments. Barcelona for me is the city where things happen. If you dive in and give it your best, you are going to have a great time.

Group of people jumping in front of a house in Barcelona, Spain
My team!

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

Inma was the local support here in Barcelona. She was wonderful! She invited me in the beginning of my stay to have a coffee. We went over all the logistical and cultural details, what to see, what to be careful for, and such. Inma is a very enthusiastic person, so having that meeting really made me even more excited about my stay. She also visited my workplace and checked up on me, and she attended a conference where I had the opportunity to be one of the speakers.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

I wish I would have taken an intensive course Spanish. I worked in a company for six months and my Spanish improved a lot! But if I would have had that head start, then maybe now I would have been fluent. And I’d start earlier with searching for a place to stay! Barcelona is very busy in September.

Describe a typical day in the life of your program.

The wonderful thing was that it is hard to describe a typical day! If is was easy, then maybe it would not have been this interesting. Basically I work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (this can fluctuate though). Two days a week I can also work from home. In the evening, I meet friends and we go to have a drink, go listen to some music, go dance, or have a lot of great food!

Coastal view in Barcelona, Spain
The sea on one side of Barcelona

What did you enjoy doing in your free time?

Meeting friends and walking around the city! Barcelona will never get boring. I am still amazed if I take a stroll around my neighbourhood (and I have been doing that for six months!). There is also great nature areas around Barcelona worth visiting.

What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?

My accommodation was not great. I choose to find my own accommodation instead of choosing this option within the program. Rent was ok, the location was unbelievable fantastic, but the room was very, very small. If I could return, I would look for a bigger room and maybe pay a bit more.

What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?

Hard to say...I think part of the fun is discovering things on your own! All the basics will be covered with your conversation with the local ambassador of the program.

Mountains near Barcelona, Spain
And the mountain on the other side!

How has your time abroad impacted your life?

I still have a few weeks left here, but I can take a good guess of how it impacted my life already. I'm driven to look up more of these experiences! The big, bad, scary beyond is not so scary anymore. You can make your place anywhere you like, and all obstacles on the way are possible to overcome and part of the experience. My world has opened up much more and going abroad definitely seems more feasible.

I think I also learned a lot about the potential of social encounters. A chance encounter in a hostel in the beginning of your semester can turn into a great friendship a few months later. Or someone you meet now, you will have the chance to work together with many years from now!

Would you recommend Global Experiences to others? Why?

Absolutely! They went above and beyond to get me my abroad experience! My university has stricter rules than some universities, so I was afraid I was going to need to lobby a lot and it would be an administrative nightmare! But Global Experiences did A LOT of the heavy lifting in that regard. I was very surprised that a program would take the time and effort to help you with those things. They were also always friendly, and you feel they are invested in all the interns they have in their program.