be careful when accepting an offer from Spanish Internship!!

Published by Roisin Lee — 3 years ago

Blog: Too good to be true
Tags: Erasmus tips

I am writing this in the hope no one else ends up in the same position as I found myself in, and many other girls taking internships with this agency. 

I arrived in Castellon de la plana following an interview with Spanish Internship. I did not realise at the time that Spanish Internship is paid 100€, by the company employing you, for each month you stay- so if you are making complaints about your working conditions, nothing will change. 

 I had my interview for the position of business intern, come teacher with a local company called Grup Activalia.

I put my C.V on the Erasmus website, an agency called 'Spanish Internship'  found it, contacted me and put me in touch with Grup Activalia, a company who interviewed me in August and promised me Spanish lessons in the mornings before I worked every lunch time giving English lessons ; a fair exchange I felt. They also promised accommodation, all bills included, internet, I would be with Spanish people and not living with people I work with. 

In November they sent me the address for where I would be staying. All the contracts were signed and then last week, one week before I was due to arrive, I received an email informing me that I had to have an interview with someone called Monica carregui. This happens each year, to all of the girls recuited. 

She is in charge of part of the company that goes by the name of International Steps. Although the academy, International Steps, had only been vaguely eluded to during the interview with Grup Activalia, I was to be working mainly  with them. However, I was not to worry – the work was all arranged. She could give me the hours I need shadowing a CEO type as Grup Activalia had agreed (and signed many documents saying they would). 

 I was handed over, as I later found out, like all the girls who are recruited by the company. It seems to be standard practice that interns arrive thinking that they will work for just Grup Activalia and 'the academy' presumably (and there lies the problem) by the same name. Then we discover, usually 2 days before, that it is only for 5 hours per week we are in the schools and the rest of the time is with Monica at international Steps.

I discovered that suddenly Monica was charged with the responsibility of finding me a place to live. I found this out in the skype call a week before I arrived. "But what about the address that Grup Activalia gave me in November ? Am I now not moving there ?! I arrive next week !"

"Don’t worry" I was reassured, there will be something ready by then, I’m taking care of it – when do you arrive ?" Again, I told her the date, again she wrote it down.

The night before I arrived I contacted Inernational Steps again to ask if I needed to book into an airBnB or get a hotel given that she still hadn’t found accommodation – I could look for it myself, I just needed to know the situation, ‘No, no! don’t worry!’ came the reply. There was a problem with the accommodation, there would be delay of one small week and I would be in an airBnB until then.

I landed in Castellon at 10.40am and finally at 5.30pm, after being taken straight to a school to work then being left in alone in a room for over 4  hours without any explanation as to what had happend (or not) I was told that I would be staying with another teacher from International Steps as there was nowhere for me to live. 

Add to this the fact that my only contact from Grup Activalia became the coordinator, who sent me messages saying "good night my lady", "hello pretty". With the other girls he was very touchy feely and asked for hugs in return for sorting out their expenses clames (which were rarely paid ontime).  We were told we had to go to people's homes to give lessons (this was not revealed until we got there.) Naturally you need to arrange insurancewhich  will cover you if you have an accident in the work place, but this is not possible if you don't know the address(s) of the places you will be working. 

If you do not agree to do the work then you will have accommodation withdrawn. 

Finally I was placed in a flat with 2 of the students attending a course at the academy, but there was never any internet despite repeated statements, that it was going to be provided. I really needed this to complete my document for university, so I spent a fortune on data.  

My expereience was disappointing, I did not recieve what I was told I was going to get in exchange for working, I had all the contracts signed but it made no difference, this is mainly because my liason was primarily with the agency Spanish Internship. However, other girls who have arrived in Castellon de la plana have had much worse experiences with these organisations. 

 I can share mine and advise that if you are taking an internship in Spain do not do it via this agency or with these companies. 

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