Alumni Spotlight: Fianne van Kuppenveld


Fianne is a enthusiastic master student with a passion for human society. From her curriculum in humanistic studies, she decided to do her internship abroad with NGO Serve the City Madrid.

Why did you choose this program?

In Spain, it is not super easy to find an English-spoken internship. I wanted to gain more experiences with NGO's and Serve the City (STC) seemed to me as a valuable spot to bring my theoretical knowledge into practice. From the first interview onwards, they were very transparent and clear in the communication.

Pretty quick it turned out to be a match from both sides: STC was willing to offer me an internship place for where I could get study credits and be helpful for the NGO as well.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

STC Madrid offered me a house and meals, a Spanish sim-card and public transportcard. I got guidance in the whole preparation process and they were always willing to answer my questions.

What I had to organize on my own was my health insurance, criminal background and the administrative part of my Erasmus Scholarship (however, STC also supported me in this).

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Living and interning abroad for 7 months has been a life-changing opportunity for me. It sounds cliché, but you really get to know yourself when you're living abroad for a longer period of time. It has been really worth it to get to know new people and learn to work in a professional setting in a different socio-cultural context.

STC Madrid has been an amazing internship place for me to learn how the NGO world works and to feel what it means to make a difference to the lives of others in need. The advantage from working both on the project side and on the background from the office is that you get a lot of experience in how the organization runs, how projects are managed and how they are done in practice.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

An average day at the office means that you work from 10 AM to 5 PM with the members of the core team. This team exists out of 5 people, who are always super willing to help you. One person will be main responsible as your internship mentor and guide you as much as needed.

On a day at the office, you'll bring your laptop and work on whatever tasks are in your area of interest (or depending on your study program). This can be for instance finance, administrational tasks, grant researches, social researches or project planning. On projects, you'll help in the executive process. For me, the combination was really fun, because I like to use my skills and intelligence in researches and thinking processes, but I also enjoyed the practical side of carrying out the project activities a lot.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

Actually I'm a pretty easy-going person who doesn't get feared easily. I came to Spain with a really open mind and no expectations, and I think that this really helps to find your way and meet new friends.

However, of course, over the 7 months I've been in Spain, I've experienced feelings of being homesick every now and then. The most important thing for this, is to know that you have many people around you who are also away from home or who are nice and willing to support you. Thanks to the great people I met, my homesickness never lasted long.

Why is Madrid such an amazing place to live in?

Before this internship, I had been in Madrid one time before and from then on I loved the city. However, living in a city is very different of visiting it as a tourist. From the day I was a resident of Madrid, I started loving the city more and more. The people are so open and helpful, and it is really easy to make friends. The vibe is relaxed and with respect. Everyone can be him/herself in Madrid, there's freedom for everyone. Besides that it's the safest big city in Europe. As a girl, I was never afraid to walk home by myself in the middle of the night. There's low criminality and people are really helpful to you.

To wrap it up... Madrid is just an amazing city and I recommend everyone to go experience it!