Why did you decide to intern abroad with Adelante Abroad in Barcelona?
Ernst: It was about a year ago when I first got bitten by the travel bug. A friend of mine was telling me about the most awesome stories of his trip to New Zealand and I was suddenly overcome with a great yearning to collect my own stories to tell. So I went online and started scouting around for some overseas opportunities. After sifting through some thousands of websites ranging from cleaning elephants in India to picking grapes in France I came across the Adelante Abroad website. My luck was in: they were offering an internship scholarship to a place I've always dreamed of visiting: Barcelona. And it turned out all I needed was to get all my friends and family (and their friends and family) to make sure that I procure the most votes (LIKES on Facebook), a very convincing motivation letter and a lot of prayers.
The winds were in my favour and my Spanish ship was ready to dock: the votes came in and after careful consideration the Adelante directors chose my application! I was over the moon – especially considering I'd never been overseas before.
What made this intern abroad experience unique and special?
Ernst: For starters, this was my maiden voyage to an overseas country – so everything was unique and special. I literally went through the last few months as wide-eyed as I'd ever been. But what was really awesome was that the type of internship I did sent me to various places around Barcelona, allowing me to experience as much of the city as possible. I met a lot of people on my various assignments and have made some really amazing friends along the way. Though I can't properly partake in a Spanish conversation, I've picked up quite a bit of the language and vocabulary – something that could potentially lead to me learning the language in full.
Describe a typical day in your internship.
Ernst: There was nothing typical about my day. Every day was completely different. The only constants were my Skype meetings with my boss in Los Angeles on Thursday at 17h30 and doing on average 4-5 assignments per week. An assignment would consist of me doing some research on the venue I'm reviewing and taking pictures of, going there on the most popular night and time and taking as many pictures of people (and myself) having a blast. Sometime before my Thursday meeting I'd edit the pictures, looking for the best and deleting the blurry ones, write a short review of my experience of the bar/ restaurant/ club/ coffee shop. Then I would report back to my boss and she would give me notes and revisions which I'd hand within 24 hours of out meeting. So one day I might go to three different bars or pubs and sleep till noon the next day, then get up and start sorting through the pics whilst getting ready for the next installment of bars and coffee shops.
How has this experience impacted your future?
Ernst: I've always had a fear of technology, and in a way this internship has forced me to become more acquainted with my camera (albeit a crappy one). I now have a better idea of what an F-stop, ISO, etc is. It has challenged my people skills greatly: dealing with a completely foreign culture and not being able to speak their language has been testing, but it has made me a lot tougher when having to deal with confrontations as well as appeasing an unhappy bar-owner once caught taking pictures of his sexy bar-staff. Hopefully all of my newly acquired skills, which vary from writing reviews, specialized photography and the use of social media will lead to exciting new job opportunities in the future.
What was the overall highlight of your trip?
Ernst: It's difficult to pin-point one thing in particular when everything was amazing in its own way, but if I had to choose one thing that will always bring a smile to my face it would have to be hiking in Andorra. It's one of the most beautiful little countries I've seen and has such a fascinating culture. Literally wedged in between France and Spain with the most breathtaking views. We climbed to the biggest, highest lake in Andorra, slept in a refugee hut without electricity or a fire in -1 degree weather. It was amazing.