Ten students were selected to travel to Malaga from the following courses across GTI: Art, Emergency Care, Sport and Animal Care. The following is a short account of their experiences while in Erasmus+ placements.
After the flight to Malaga, we got our bus straight towards the hostel that we would be staying at for the next three weeks. The rooms itself were immaculate, both in hygiene, as well as what the rooms offered. The air conditioning could not have been any better, so good in fact that I felt like I was right back home since there were times that it actually got too cold. On that Sunday we had an introduction meeting with some of the people who would be managing our work placement. We were given a blue rucksack with a three-week timetable included. The timetable showed the details of the times we would be doing our work placement as well as trips and other leisure activities organized for us such as a boat trip, biking and beach sports.
On Monday, it was more of an introduction/tour of the place, as well as being told by the members of staff as to what I would be doing. The next day, Tuesday, was when the work actually began. The work place itself was situated in a crossfit-esque gym. One of the trainers, John, was one of the main trainers who conducted gym classes, as well as one-on-one personal training. For my work placement specifically, my objective was to focus on instructing the gym classes specifically. For the first week I was told to do so entirely in English despite the language barrier. I learned various phrases in Spanish, my confidence grew to speak bits of Spanish more and more with each passing week. There were four phases to a gym class – The warmup, explaining the exercises, keeping time of the clients making sure they switch stations, and the cooldown. Throughout all four phases I had to speak loud and clearly, making sure that my explanations on each exercise could be understood properly. After doing the warmup and keeping time, I would make sure that each client was doing the exercises correctly. What’s great about correcting form is that it transcends language barriers, as it involves the body itself, physical motions that can be understood regardless of if you speak the same language as the client or not. Given the size of the room, as well as the constant music, I had to speak very loudly throughout the 45 minute workout, which definitely put some strain on my voice for the first week but I eventually adapted. I learned to speak more loudly and with more confidence, as well as key words in Spanish that would apply to my vocational area. During that first week I visited the Cathedral with a few others, and the Picasso Museum.
For the second week, I was told to take more initiative with the classes. To compare the second (and third) week to the first week, in the first week the trainers were shadowing me quite a bit, though that’s reasonable because I needed time to adjust to the new work environment. As the weeks went on, however, I was taking more of the reigns for the classes. The Friday classes of each week were also unique. The majority of the time I was doing Tabada classes at this time of the week. Tabada workouts involve timing exercise and rest with music I.e. 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest. These classes would last about half an hour – typically quicker than your regular class that would take place from Monday to Thursday. On the first weekend of our Erasmus work placement, we all went up north to Grenada for a day trip. It first started with an hour-long tour of a castle. Afterward, we were given two hours to free roam the town. When it came to going out for drinks, we had done so only one time this week on a Friday before the trip, deliberately on a day where we wouldn’t be working. For the entirety of my stay, I paid for a gym membership, as did the two other Erasmus members that I was there with. A small group of us went to a car museum which was about a 30-minute walk from the hostel. It included vintage vehicles for the most part, as well as some unique ones seen from movies and celebrities I.e., Michael Jackson, as well as some cars from James Bond, plus a batmobile.
On the final week we went on a 50 minute bus ride to a beach, to which we were free to roam around the area and town for a few hours. There wasn’t a tour here, and it was generally a bit shorter than the Granada trip and definitely one of the hotter days of the Erasmus trip altogether. We visited the Alcazaba fortress which consisted of many winding paths which all lead up to the peak of the fortress, offering some great views of the city center of Malaga itself. We celebrated the birthday of another Erasmus member this week, which resulted in a short night out. On the last week I put some time into visiting QQBikes which was an electric bike rental business. On the first night I was chatting with one of the workers for well over an hour in regard to the electronics they used for building and repairing the vehicles. A few others on the Erasmus trip and I rented the go-karts and E-bikes multiple times coming up near the end of that week. The bikes required a deposit of 100 euro, but only 10 euro per hour of use, not bad considering that each bike went for well over 2,000 euro. Before leaving for Ireland I made sure to keep in-contact with the worker via social media. The flight back home was quick and comfortable with Aer Lingus, though having to re-acclimate to the cold was one of the more difficult parts. Despite working 5 days a week for each week on Erasmus, the entire trip flew by. If I could do it again I would without second thought
On day 1 we arrived in Malaga after our flight over, we were then quickly brought to our apartment complex where we given our rooms and talked with European Era supervisor, we were given our work addresses. The rest of the evening was ours to do as we pleased. Everyone ran for the closest supermarket to get food as we were all famished.
Sunday, first day waking up in our new accommodation. We they went around the city and explored finding various attractions to attend later on as they was no activity for the first Sunday. We also met up with the teacher who accompanied us over for a chat and to see if we had settled in. Monday we were accompanied to our work placement and introduced to all the staff there we got to meet the staff and have a look around the place. First impression of the staff was they were definitely their own characters they were so kind and friendly from the start and the language barrier between us made it both challenging and interesting to communicate.
Tuesday was our real first day of working we took part in classes and learned some phrases that we would need for later on in teaching. Later that day we had a city tour at 6pm we saw the alcazaba entrance, Picasso museum and the entrance to the chapel also of course we saw the various ways to order coffee. Wednesday we went to work experience as usual, we went to the Picasso museum after work as it was much quieter than Sunday we spent roughly an hour or two. We also went to the gift shop attached to Picasso museum and got some stuff to remember Malaga by. The Picasso museum was jaw dropping words give it no justice as it is truly something you must experience with your own eyes I managed to snag a few pictures of the art works and what museum trip would it be without a trip to the gift shop. We also experienced the cathedral however only the bottom floor but it was better than nothing as we saw various statues and a few paintings.
Thursday and Friday were very similar we went to work and then ventured out to the beach, the water is much saltier then in Ireland despite this it was still a wonderful experience. We then had a trip to Granada it also happens to be a heat wave the same day so we arrived in Granada in 35 degree weather which blows the temperature of Ireland out of the water. The tour was amazing and showed us so much. We then had some free time to go and get food or shop, we all ended up going to this restaurant not to far from our bus it was rather cheap if you were to compare it to price’s back home. We then explored the area found various shops and street vendors.
The rest of the day was ours but we just chilled out as we had been on our feet for the majority of the day. We had a movie night on the Sunday and watched old movies it was a hilarious evening to say the least.
This week I gained confidence in my Spanish as during the fitness classes I was motivating the class in partly in Spanish and partly in English. I also taught the warm-up and exercises this week for 3 of the days the class changes every second day of the week so I’m always adjusting to new exercises which helps me with time management as I could never get too comfortable with the exercises. On Tuesday we had 2 activities one of them a flemenco show and the other being the Alcazaba ruins The ruins were beautiful and you could see the majority of the city from the top of the ruins, we had a little over 1 hour in the ruins it was just enough time to enjoy Alcazaba and to make our way over to the flemenco show. The flemenco show was interesting to say the least the music was delightful alongside the story they were telling through song and dance it was a beautiful performance.
The following day a few of us went to the motor mobile museum, it was filled with cars from various times from one the first ever cars to having Micheal Jackson’s gem in crusted Royal’s royce. I got plenty of pictures and we even got in for a student rate which brought our tickets down to 4.90 making it really affordable for all of us. The rest of the week was very tame except for Saturday, there was two trips one to Nerja and after Frigiliana. Nerja was full of shops and little markets and there was even a little cafe where we all had breakfast for a very reasonable price. We had a bit of time to ourselves there before we departed to Frigiliana the beach was mesmerising the water so clear that it was almost an optical illusion as I had no depth perception, we swam for what felt like hours alas it had to come to an end however we did have enough time to find a restaurant to have lunch in. We then departed back to Malaga for the evening.
The final week was upon us and a great sorrow came over me as I would soon be going back to Ireland however I still had 5 days to explore this amazing place. On Monday I attended work experience with an early start at 8:15am and taught the first class of the day with little to no help from the instructor this as made me over joyed as I had grown so much in confidence since we arrived I have went from barley speaking to the class now to teaching them. I feel that thanks to the Erasmus program I have improved upon a lot of my skills such as my time management and most important of all my communication skills have improved greatly. On Tuesday we as a group celebrated my birthday as it happened to be whilst we were here in Malaga. We went out for a wonderful night and a meal. I had created a wonderful group of friends from this experience and will always be grateful for the experience. On Wednesday I had another early start at 8:15am it is such a beautiful time of day not too warm nor too cold just perfect.
We went to work experience as normal had a great time. We later went to the market and grabbed a few bits that we couldn’t get anywhere else. On the same note I got this little figure that you build yourself it ended up being a group activity as it took 4 of us to make but it showed me that the people I had met on this trip were so much more than people I have met they are friends. On Thursday myself and a few others went to do a final bit of shopping before our departure to Ireland on Saturday. We also got to see the gorgeous sunset at the view point gibralfaro the walk up was both steep yet somehow calming as you could see over and everyone who was below you the sky turned a beautiful shade of pink as the sun set.
The final day before departure our work placement was sad to see us go. We got them something small for taking us into their work environment and letting climb the ranks from observing to teaching. They even invited us for a night out but alas we couldn’t make it as we were all just far too tired. We had our final activity today it was a boat trip. It was beautiful you could see the horizon from no matter where you were seated. We were out on the water for an hour or so it was a amazing evening.
Overall the Erasmus program is something I’m so glad I was able to do as it is an experience “like no other” I have learned so much about the history of Spain and Malaga. I have picked up a little bit of Spanish alongside some new friends. It’s rather sad to see my time in Malaga come to an end but this experience is something I will always be grateful for I can not recommend it highly enough.
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