Piece of cake – Janiek

Piece of cake – Janiek

¡Hola! Soy Janiek y tengo veinte años, voy a decir algo sobre mi tiempo en España y como he aprendido el idioma. Saying this phrase at the end of your internship has to be a piece of cake, definitely if you study Spanish as intensive as I do. Please read my experience!


In September of 2018 I came to sunny Spain. This was the first time I went abroad all by myself. Because I was a member of the school board of my student association and organised the introduction week for first year students a week before I came to Spain, I was exhausted when I arrived. I slept during the whole flight, which lasted 3 hours and 10 minutes. And once I arrived at my accommodation, I slept more than 14 hours during the first three nights. Spain does something to you!

The first days I did not have to go to my internship, so I had time to get to know my new home. My Spanish roommates showed me the nearest supermarket, taught me some words in Spanish like: gato (cat), perro (dog), because we had a cat: Peko and a dog: Bimbo. I was more than ready for my new environment: sun, sea, beach, party… But okay, I am here for my internship.


On my way to my first internship day at a real estate company in the high end segment. Since the annual meeting with employees from all the offices was held, everyone was present and I immediately was thrown into the deep. Here I also learnt the first difference between the Dutch and the Spanish culture; meeting people the Spanish way. In the Netherlands you would give someone a handshake, but in Spain it’s a big hug and kisses. Of course I, like a Dutchie, went for the three kisses, but that was awkward! Here they just do two, keep that in my mind, you will avoid a lot of awkward situations ;).

I went to Spain because for my study I had chosen Spanish as a second modern language and was really motivated to learn it. In my internship company it was a bit harder than I thought. Everyone speaks, besides Spanish, also fluent English, German, French, (and some) Dutch. Sometimes it was just easier to choose a language which I already knew.

In the beginning they gave me a lot of information, of course not really helpful if it would have been done in Spanish. Because of this my colleagues got used to the fact that it was easier to speak to me in English. That’s when I waved the opportunity to improve my Spanish skills goodbye!

Don’t give up

But I did not give up! After a while of keeping myself busy with DuoLingo and WRTS I realized I still didn’t understand a thing the Spanish people said to me, so time for action. I called Joost of JongLeren.es to tell him I really wanted to learn Spanish and told him that I was actually quite afraid to go out and talk to strangers (this was an advice my Swedish neighbour gave me).

Through JongLeren.es I managed the get some lessons through Skype from a Venezuelan teacher and they also connected me to a local charity organization. Now I was able to use everything I learned in practice at the Charity Shop in San Pedro, close to my house! By selling second hand clothing, they raise money for children with the butterfly disease (piel de mariposa in Spanish!).

Good feeling

I really loved doing voluntary work. All my colleagues were very sweet and helped me a lot whenever I had difficulties with the language. Since I was doing my internship five days a week from 10:00 till 18:00, I was only able to work in the charity shop in the evenings on Monday, Wednesday, Friday or on Saturday morning. I always tried to pass by two days a week. Sometimes I really was tired of the work I did in my internship, but I knew I would feel way better If I just did one hour of voluntary work in the shop. I got home way happier than when I left in the morning and I learned new words! These words I wrote down in a notebook to read it again the next morning so I was sure I would remember them.

I do have to admit that my Spanish isn’t fluent, therefore I have to stick around a bit longer, or to be placed in an environment where absolutely NO ONE speaks English (the biggest pitfall). I am really glad right now that I understand a bit more of it though. I got a whole bunch of Spanish children’s books of the charity shop to take with me when I go back to Holland. One has to keep practicing!