Hey, I am Aya, from Morocco and I am a Business Administration student at the Abdullah Gul University (AGU).
Since I came to AGU, my life became a compilation of amazing adventures, shared with some awesome people, with whom I made many priceless memories.
But the journey that I want to share with you guys in this blog is, by far, one of the most thrilling adventures that I would ever have the chance to experience.
Since I was a little girl, I’ve been dreaming about going overseas, discovering new ethnicities and acquiring new perspectives. I have dreamt of sharing my life experiences, and of moving forward by overcoming the challenges one faces while traveling.
I still remember the 12-year-old me squealing with excitement upon getting my passport, and exclaiming that I would get it filled with stamps in no time! This love of exploration is what motivated me to come abroad in the first place and to keep my dream of exploring the whole world alive.
Being a student at AGU, I quickly discovered the different exchange programs being offered. I constantly heard students and professors talking about Erasmus, and how great their experiences had been abroad. My curiosity was peaked and I was really intrigued to know more about these programs.
I mentioned the exchange programs to my family, and my parents were very supportive of the idea and encouraged me to look for internships for freshmen. And to my greatest surprise, I ran into an internship being offered in an accounting & consulting office in Stockholm, Sweden.
After contacting the office and receiving my acceptance letter, I registered my name in the Erasmus+ Trainees list. And just like that, my final decision was made: even if going on this 2-month internship meant sacrificing the typical summer beach vacation — with my family, the hot weather, the relaxation after a long year away from home — I was going to seize this great opportunity and combine the useful to the pleasant.
Apart from the visa process, which was kind of stressful, the other processes went pretty smooth. And thanks to the much appreciated help of the Erasmus office, who assisted us with clarifications, instructions through presentations and meetings, I was all ready for Sweden in no time.
Before going to Sweden, I had very vague ideas about the country. These ideas were basically built on stereotypes; I thought that there is a predisposition for meatballs and herring, and that the daily lifestyle is very expensive, and I was also given fair warning that all Swedes tend to be more aloof and introverted than any other community in the world, with a huge respect for the “personal space” concept.
Well, it didn’t take long for me to realize that most of those stereotypes were just plain wrong. Swedish people are crazy for meatballs, yes, however the people were anything but ‘cold’.
My plane arrived very early on a Thursday morning; my exhausting 8-hour flight didn’t prevent me from admiring the beautiful landscapes of Sweden, though. And, apparently, I was lucky enough to have my internship on the best month of the year, the month that all Swedes cherish dearly: July! But even on this ‘supposedly’ hot month, I got to experience a rather –schizophrenic weather.
I had three days ahead of me, before the official start of my internship, so I decided to go on a discovery journey. I did this mainly to initiate myself to the traffic and transportation network, which wasn’t as complicated as I expected it to be.
And then came Monday, and my internship finally started. The facility I was working in wasn’t big at all, making it easier for me to get along with all the employees, who were very sweet and helpful. The enterprise I worked for is a financial accounting company, which was perfect for my case, since I had always been interested in finance.
This internship would also be very valuable, as I had to take two finance-related courses in the semester following my internship. So it didn’t only help me in having an initial discovery about the domain I am most interested in, but also in having a clearer mindset about my professional career and aspirations.
My AGU learning process was also being aided and the internship itself was perfectly related to my studies curriculum.
Beyond that, the stay abroad through Erasmus+ is a very important addition to my CV and Non-Academic Transcript. I strongly believe that I have better opportunities for traineeships or student jobs in my home country because of the internship and the experience I gained from it.
Not only that, but as I mentioned earlier, staying abroad helps one become able to take over work tasks with a greater responsibility. In those two months, I learned how to adapt to new environments, sometimes very hard, situations, finding solutions, and clearly pointing out my weaknesses and strengths.
Furthermore, my look on my future work has drastically changed. Now I am able to foresee myself working in an international context at ease and with total tolerance with the foreign cultural and personal values in some point in the future. And speaking of tolerance, one of the things that I truthfully appreciated when it came to the Swedes’ professional behavior, is their admirable broad-mindedness.
I had the incredible chance to land an internship in Stockholm. So after my work hours and during weekends, I would always go out to discover the city. Whether it was strolling through nature, visiting museums, exploring the old town of Stockholm Gamla Stan, I was having an awesome time.
And since Stockholm is one of the most multicultural cities in the world (15% of Stockholm’s population is foreign-born), cultural festivals and shows were held every Sunday, downtown, in the Kungsträdgården square.
With all of these attractions, I enjoyed my stay to the fullest. But I specially fell in love with the medieval charm of GamlaStan, with its cobblestone streets, looming cathedrals and high rise buildings with saffron, warm colors.
Nevertheless, Stockholm is not a museum piece: it is modern and dynamic; and nothing else in the world can describe the ingenious, contemporary interior design better than Stockholm’s coffee shops. Whether it was a small pub, or a trending restaurant, I could clearly see the genuine effort put into greenery placement, sophisticated lightning, color harmony… good design was simply a given.
On my last day, I went out with my colleagues for Fika, the Swedish version of the British afternoon tea break, and the Spanish Merienda; and for Stockholmers, an offer to Fika is never to be rejected.
I was quite sad, leaving the amazing people I had the chance to know during this Erasmus stay, the streets and museums I enjoyed wandering through, and the beautiful early morning walks in the parks.
I must say that undergraduate students are rather hesitant when it comes to taking summer internships in their very first year, but what they don’t know, is that it is as important to a freshman as it is to a junior or senior, to discover the professional life and gain real world experience; the earlier the better!
Moreover, I strongly believe that it is something that adds up to ones qualifications, it is a proof of strong resolution and aptitude to take challenges at an early age.
As I continue my bachelor studies, I am very excited and absolutely ready to take part in other Erasmus programs that AGU offers. I definitely recommend everyone to check out the exchange programs as it would be a shame to waste such great opportunities, especially with the great help the students get from them.
Final and special thanks to my dear parents, who are always my first support in my life.
Thank you for reading this and take care!
Please feel free to contact me, here, if you want to know more about Erasmus’+ traineeship program, about AGU or about my experiences as an intern in Sweden.