I would like to share with you my Erasmus Internship experience from this summer, but I will focus more on the off-campus activities I had the chance to take part in.
One of the biggest reasons I decided to join AGU was for the opportunity the University gives to students to take part in International Mobility Programs like Erasmus, which give us a chance to travel across Europe while studying. It also provides many opportunities for studying and career progress.
The internship took place in Trento, one of the most beautiful cities in Italy, located in the North and belonging to the Alpine region.
The internship lasted two months, from mid-June to mid-August. Luckily, I had one extra month on my Visa, which allowed me to explore Europe further. When I arrived in Trento, I noticed huge differences in almost every aspect of life, compared to what I am used to. As a landscape lover, I found myself sitting in the middle of heaven; no words can describe the beauty and serenity of the place.
I started working on my internship after three days of exploring the city and getting used to my surroundings. I had an office in the “Image Processing Laboratory”, which is managed by my advisor, at Trento University.
My first trip out of Italy was to France, to Marseille to be precise. The reason I went there was to watch the final of the African Cup of football, which opposed Algeria and Senegal. It was a fantastic two-day trip. I felt at home due to the large Algerian community living there. Over there, I made use of my CouchSurfing account (a social media platform you can use to temporarily stay in other people’s homes, typically making use of improvised sleeping arrangements) for the first time.
One unforgettable moment was when Algeria won the African Cup. All Marseille was colored in red with fireworks, the roads were blocked. « Le Vieux Port » (the main seafront of the city) was full of Algerian flags. Being in a foreign country, I had never experienced that kind of excitement before. We spent the whole night partying and dancing.
After spending two days in Marseille, I went back to Trento and started working on my internship again. Everything was going smooth; whenever I faced a problem, I was helped by some Master and PhD students who were in the same lab as me. I have met people from different countries – and some Algerians as well – most of them students; and we are still in contact now.
During the internship period, I was “Googling” one day in order to find a volunteering program to join after finishing my Internship. I literally typed “Best volunteering websites” on Google. Five websites popped up and one of them was WORKAWAY. Workaway is a platform where you can do both volunteering and working, depending on whether the host provides payment or not.
I was so excited once I saw the profiles of hosts from different countries and with different kinds of volunteering posts. I created a profile by writing details about myself and my past experience (note: not all of the hosts require past experience).
Once I finished editing my profile, I started sending requests to hosts, I sent more than thirty requests on the first day. Many of them did not even reply; however, I got the chance to choose between the hosts who accepted me.
The first Workaway I applied for was “USA Girls Scouts”. It was all about American girl scouts who are living in Europe; they were gathering in Frankfurt, Germany for a week and enrolling in scout camp. I was standing as a counselor for a group of scouters along with other counselors as well (note: I got this position considering my past experience working with Scouts back in Algeria). I was, with two other Spanish guys, having special attention, as we were the only guys in the camp.
It was a wonderful experience that I will never forget. It was so wonderful that tears even rolled down my cheeks, seeing the girls leave the camp on the last day.
The second Workaway took place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and it was about a Surf Camp called “Surfana”. I went there right after I finished the Scout Camp program. I was an assistant for the surf crew, helping them to teach the beginners who were coming from different places to learn surfing and taking the chance to chill at the camp. I also had shifts at the camp with the crew; we were preparing breakfast, dinner, along with cleaning the cabins and the bar.
The third and the last Workaway, so far, was when I came back to Turkey, more precisely in Fethiye Köyü, Izmit. I planned to do it before starting the new education year, and chose to volunteer in a farm for two reasons:
- Back in Algeria, I spent my childhood in the countryside, which led me to think to re-experience the village life,
- And the second reason was to get away from crowded cities and relax before going back to university.
It was a fabulous experience; we were taking care of animals and working at the farm which produces different crops, both vegetable and fruits.
I was also translating to volunteers who were with me as they don’t know Turkish and the locals don’t know English; meanwhile, I had the chance to improve my Turkish. I was planning to stay just two weeks, but I stayed another extra week.
After that, I returned to AGU. It was challenging at first to readjust to a study environment, after this time in Europe; but on the other hand, I was excited to see my friends again after a long summer.
In general, I am so satisfied with the experience I had while doing my Internship, I was not even planning to have this great experience. I would like, from this platform, to thank everyone who played a role in it, from near or far, for the great experience they gave me and for the help they provided me to ease the process for joining the Erasmus Internship.
I would be glad to answer questions from students who are interesting in joining an Erasmus Program, whether it is an internship or an exchange semester. Also, for the ones who are interesting to complete a “WORKAWAY” experience, I would be happy to help them create their profiles and give them some hints to find the right program to join.
You can reach me at email@example.com or via my facebook: Dhia Said Daamouch and Instagram: Dhia Daamouche