As a recent graduate in Law and Politics from the Autonomous University of Madrid, I was determined to take advantage of the last grant I could apply for as a university graduate (Erasmus + placement scheme). Moreover, I was also meaning to do an internship in an English-speaking country in order to improve my English skills which is a must for us young Europeans nowadays!
I had not heard of what a European Documentation Centre was or how it worked until I first browsed the Cardiff EDC website. By looking at their pictures and reading the internships page, plus their blog and facebook, I knew it would appeal to me as the atmosphere I could grasp from them reminded me of my lovely time as an Erasmus student in England two years before. In addition to that, I was going to live in a new nation and a new city which I had already visited once and had got excellent vibes about it!
My main tasks at the EDC were the following:
- My very first assigned task was to check and update the Spanish version of the Europe on the Internet guide . At this point I learnt how to add and amend broken hyperlinks.
- Secondly, I was introduced to the ESO database by Fred who thoroughly explained how it works and how to create a record. From that moment onwards, until the other interns arrived in early October, I started indexing press releases, statements, fact sheets, speeches, memos and the like published by the European Commission, the European External Action Service and the Council of the European Union. Following the other interns’ arrival we set up a rota in order to keep track of these institutions one each per day.
- Thirdly, I was requested to start staffing the enquiry desk. It was my first work experience in this aspect in which you have to assist the library users’ enquiries, put books back to their corresponding shelves, pick up the phone should none of the other staff members be around at that moment, and deal with the library’s hourly headcount.
- Concurrently, as a background task I started indexing articles of academic journals. The first one I indexed was an online journal whereas the remainder were printed versions. As other additional background tasks, I also created records for available recent e-books on the Oxford Scholarship Online catalogue along with checking if there had already been records created for some of these books. After that, I indexed briefings which had been published by the Scottish Parliament on their webpage and were EU-related, dating back to 2014. Prior to that, I had to check if previous existing records contained a working hyperlink; otherwise I had to replace it for the current one since the webpage had been recently revamped.
- And last but not least, I took part in two EDC events: the Erasmus welcome reception in mid-October and What Europe means to me (Brexit reactions in other Member States) in mid-November. For the latter one we had to deliver a brief speech in English – which was my first ever speech in a foreign language!
My internship has boosted my English skills, has dusted off my European Union Law knowledge, has built up my vocabulary range regarding legal and political technical terms, and to top it off, it has made me feel engaged and getting to grips with what is going on in the EU, in the wider Europe and in the European neighbour countries.
Outside my internship, it has highlighted the lovely international and multicultural atmosphere which is embedded both in Cardiff and in the EDC. Cardiff is a medium-size city where most places are within walking distance, the Welsh are extremely welcoming and friendly, the cost of living is cheaper than in other main British cities, the pace of life is quiet and chilled, there are plenty of cosy tea rooms and cafes, its two main parks (Roath Park and Bute Park) are extremely beautiful and refreshing, and the city market is both charming and well-endowed with lots of local produce, cakes, pastries, sweets, clothes, second-hand books and the like.
With regard to the cultural sphere, Cardiff has lots to offer for students. They offer a wide range of concerts, musicals, plays, live music and cheap cinema tickets throughout the academic year. Hence, I would advise everyone to make the most of it while on their internship!
In my opinion, remarkable tourist attractions, apart from the above mentioned, would be Cardiff Bay, Penarth, the Millennium Centre, the Principality Stadium, Castell Coch, Cardiff Castle, the arcades in town, Llandaff Cathedral, Brecon Beacons, St Fagans National History Museum and Bristol (the closest main English city to Cardiff).
I must thank Ian, Fred and Ceri for having taken me as an intern. It has been a marvellous and fruitful experience which has nurtured both my mind and my spirits. I am indeed taking glorious memories back to Spain with me!