Internship report: Anita Zalaldinova19 April 2015
I did my work placement at the European Documentation Centre at Cardiff University in Wales, UK. A work placement in Ireland or the United Kingdom is an essential part of the Master in British Studies at Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
Wales is a predominantly rural region with little industry. Magnificent scenery and coastline is a feature, which is especially advantageous if you decide to go there in spring or summer, as well as wonderful valleys and forests. Living in Cardiff is nice in two ways: firstly, there are not so many citizens (ca. 350,000) but you still find yourself in a developed modern city with a variety of cultural, shopping and entertainment places to visit. Moreover, living in Cardiff is significantly cheaper than in other parts of UK. Before coming to Cardiff I would recommend to prepare yourself for the oddity of weather (and never trust weather forecasts) and right-hand driving, which might turn out to be quite dangerous for people from the continent in the first several days or weeks!
The Cardiff EDC is part of a network of 400 centres around the EU called the Europe Direct Information Network. The centres provide information and expertise on the European Union so that people could use them for education and research. One of the particular features of the Cardiff EDC is that it is the editorial base of an electronic information service European Sources Online (ESO) helping both Cardiff University researchers and students, plus anyone else in the world, to find out about the EU. The Centre is directed by Ian Thomson, there are two other permanent employees and several interns, both full- and part-time, helping out with various tasks. Being a full-time intern, I spent 3 months working at Cardiff EDC every day 9.00-17.00.
Due to the small size of the Centre and extremely friendly and helpful staff it was very easy to integrate and feel yourself at home. On the very first day I was introduced to my work tasks, everything was explained and the transition from simple tasks to more difficult ones was always smooth and with help from the colleagues. On the tasks connected to the ESO database we always worked in a team, discussing the details, and there were always individual tasks, like updating or translating country guides, when you could work independently and follow your own plan. The days usually started with checking the official EU websites for new publications and adding them to database, and then we turned to our individual tasks, though continuously checking the EU sources for updates.
I did not take any language courses before going to the UK. The working language at the Centre was English so I did not experience any problems with that. Surely my language ability improved a lot after my placement. We did not only talk about work matters but also discussed common topics and issues both with native speakers and foreign students, and this allowed me to master my English language skills a lot.
Cardiff has a lot of attractions to offer: museums, castles, parks, theatres, night life. Most of the museums are free of charge; at a lot of other places of interest you can get a discount with your student card. There are several beautiful parks where you can do some sports or go for a picnic; also you can walk to Cardiff Bay and enjoy beautiful views. If the weather is nice you can go hiking in the Brecon Beacons national park or drive to the coast.
I visited Cardiff Castle, which impressed me a lot and where you can enjoy a view of Cardiff from the Roman keep. I also liked walking in the parks (Roath Park is an amazing place to stroll through the rose garden and around the lake); I watched the opera ‘The Magic Flute’ (Die Zauberflöte) at the Wales Millennium Centre, visited the National Museum of Wales and went to London for weekends.
I would definitely recommend my work placement provider, Cardiff EDC. It is an incredible experience of working in the international friendly environment in one of the most beautiful parts of the UK and learning so much about the EU politics, economics, culture and tendencies. If you are interested in European issues and want to connect your future career with the EU, then it would be a perfect place to make a first step in this direction. Alternatively, it would be just a very interesting and insightful work to spend some time on.