Back to Top

Helena Jones case study

I undertook my work shadowing placement abroad at a music shop in Segovia, Spain. My aims for the experience were threefold, being not only to improve my Spanish skills but also to learn more of the working world and to experience the true culture of Spain by immersing myself in daily life. In all respects I fulfilled my goals as I took part in an unforgettable experience which was shaped not only by the city where I worked but also by the people with whom I travelled and worked.

During the week I managed to do many other things besides my work shadowing. Upon my arrival on Sunday, having already made friends with a great group of people, we enjoyed a walk around the city where I got to grips with the town and found my work experience placement. This left me confident for my first day, given that it was within walking distance from the hotel and not difficult to locate, and allowed me to settle into my surroundings. On my first day, any anxiety about my work placement was instantly lost as I was greeted by my friendly and talkative boss who explained the workings of the shop and showed great patience when at first I had some difficulty in communicating everything in Spanish. I then fell easily into the pattern of work each day and the Spanish way of life.

At my work placement in the music shop I did a variety of different things each day. For example, on Monday after learning about the ins and outs of the shop, I began with the task of sorting different brass parts and organising new areas in which to display them and tagging new deliveries of sheet music before shelving them, often chatting with my colleagues about Segovia, myself or anything else for that matter. However, on Wednesday I began the more complicated task of documenting bills and whether or not they had been paid, both on the computer and on paper. I was impressed by the amount of trust they had in my handling their financial affairs and even more impressed that I was able to carry out the task all in a different language from my own. Furthermore, every day I would serve and chat with customers, which really gave me an insight into Spanish life as well as improving my communication skills.

In my free time, I had plenty of opportunities to explore the picturesque World Heritage Site of Segovia which boasts a superbly preserved Roman aqueduct, a magnificent Gothic cathedral and a fascinating medieval fortress. Every day I had a break of around three hours during siesta time which gave me ample opportunity to explore the city. So during these breaks, my friends and I would often eat traditional Spanish tapas in cafes, roam the streets and shops in Segovia and improve our Spanish at the same time. In the evenings we would often have dinner in traditional Spanish restaurants and enjoy the social scene that Segovia had to offer. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that the majority of residents whom I encountered spoke only Spanish, so I could practise my language skills on every occasion. On Saturday our group leaders organised a trip to the Alcazar fortress and a meal of paella at a local restaurant, finished off by a lesson of salsa in the evening which really made a perfect end to the week.

I massively enjoyed my time in the music shop, not only because I was allowed to play whatever instrument I wanted which satisfied my passion for music and because my improvement in Spanish totally exceeded my expectations, but also because my colleagues were lovely and made sure I was never bored and always enjoying myself. Moreover, the experience as a whole was unforgettable because of my amazing work placement, the fabulous city I was in and also because of the friends I have made. So I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone who wants to improve their language skills, make foreign connections, truly experience a different culture and never fail to enjoy themselves.