João stayed in the capital, Bratislava for 6 months. He then left when his time was up and moved straight to Barcelona to start another international traineeship. We shot a video that you can see below to find out what he thought of Bratislava. There is also the written interview below that João kindly wrote for us.
1, How has your story started, why you decided to take an Erasmus+ internship in Slovakia?
I was working at the time I decided to go for an internship. I finished my Bachelor’s degree but there was something missing, that’s why I decided to take a one year gap (I hope!) and get international experience.
2, Can you tell us something about your work responsibilities?
My role was communication assistant and my tasks comprised of being in charge of the communication with foreign partners. I arranged great opportunities for Slovak students abroad so they could get the best experience as possible! As a trainee I know what they need.
3, What did you learn/improve at the most during your traineeship?
For sure, it was my formal English language skills. Before coming to Slovakia I had a few interviews for international companies and it was just terrible. Now, after these six months, I have been doing some more interviews since and I can now see huge differences!
4, Were your expectations met?
I came without any expectations. I am from a very small place and I believe that we know nothing about what’s happening in the world, regarding to labour market.
I worked in a couple of Portuguese companies and their culture and employee‘s care are so much different than Slovakia. I had a great experience working for this company and I also met many people who shared the same opinion about Slovak companies.
5, Did you have any task you had no idea how to proceed with it? If so, how did you solve it?
Well, after two weeks, I was challenged to go to one of the universities and share my experience as a trainee and I have to say that it was a bit scary. My coordinator gave me the guide lines and helped me preparing for the presentation and everything went just great!
I also needed to engage more international companies, so I had to try different approaches in order to succeed.
6, How did you find out our programme and how do you evaluate our assistance during your period here?
I had a friend who applied for this programme and he was already in Bratislava, so I just followed his feedback. I worked closely to the people in charge of Placement Slovakia and I can honestly say that they try really hard to provide you with everything you need in order to have the best experience here. You are not a trainee, you become a family member!
7, Do you have any suggestions of improvements to our programme?
I know there are many women willing to come to Slovakia for an internship. Try to find them.
8, How do you evaluate life in Slovakia?
I spent six months around, counting from April. I am sad because I had not enough time to visit all the bars and cool places in Bratislava. There is a huge variety and you can just choose a place according to your mood.
My advice for a new person coming to Slovakia is to try to learn the basic words as quick as possible – Slovaks will appreciate that very much! Costumer service may not always be as good as you expect but you will find great shops where is totally different. Slovakia is very very cheap! I just replaced water for beer!
After work you can just shop some drinks and food and seat by Danube River. I did that many times and that’s you daily luxurious moment.
You can also find many museums and live shows. Basically, every bar you go will have live music.
9, What did you find as the most different from your usual environment, country?
People. Portuguese are more welcoming, I guess, but it something that will not affect you after a few weeks. I must say that I met many great Slovaks, to be fair.
I am from an island so, definitely I missed the sea. In Slovakia you have plenty of lakes where you can go and swim. Good luck during winter.
10, What did you like the best here in Slovakia (food, place, cultural aspect, work…whatever you can think of)?
There are many positive aspects of not being a top tourism city, like you can walk and feel more like a local. Slovakia is very secure and you can walk day and night in the streets without having any problem.
I spent a lot of time just going by the lakes and relax while eating heavy Langose.
11, Did you have any work/life related difficulties during your stay in Slovakia? If so, how did you solve them?
Nothing happened regarded to this topic.
12, Did you have time to travel and explore Slovakia and neighbouring countries? Which places did you visit and what left biggest impact on you?
Oh yeah! I visited TEN countries! Ok, let me try … Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia and of course Slovakia.
The most remarkable country was Bosnia, to be more specific Sarajevo. You can still feel the recent impact of the war and you will get firsthand knowledge of the history from the locals who were very friendly towards me.
13, Which moment of your stay in Slovakia is the most memorable for you?
I am definitely not going to forget the people I met. I had a great group always going everywhere together, and we were all from different countries.
14, What are your next plans?
I am going for Barcelona for a 5 month period. I don’t really know what am I going to do after that.
15, Is there anything you would like to say to students deciding whether an internship in Slovakia is a good idea?
Just come! I know Slovakia is not very known but let me tell you that I am now going to Barcelona for five months and 70% of my budget will be just for paying accommodation while in Bratislava Placement Slovakia is paying for your room. Still, I want to have this experience in Spain but I will not have the margin I had in Slovakia. It is a very cheap country and you can always travel everywhere with a small budget.