One year ago, the big word “internship” suddenly became real. I had half a year to find something suitable that would offer me the chance to get to know the everyday life in a company and could provide me with some real life work experience. My desire was to improve my Spanish. That is why I started to search for a placement in the Spanish speaking area. What would have been a better choice than a Spanish school in Ecuador?
Finding an internship
Somehow after weeks of searching for internship offers on the internet, I finally came across Ailola Quito and applied there. How happy I was when after a few days I got the message asking for a Skype interview with me.
Everything went well, and a few days later I got accepted. Now I had to organize everything for going to Quito, from flights over vaccinations and visa to packing. Fortunately, Ailola Quito was going to provide me with an accommodation, so I didn’t have to worry about that. Yes, I would be living in a host family for the duration of my stay in Quito with halfboard.
Even though I wouldn’t receive a payment for my work at Ailola Quito, I was going to receive free accommodation and free Spanish classes, what more could I have asked for? I found this option of compensation ideal, because it meant that I wasn’t going to have ongoing expenses, just for stuff I wanted to buy for myself. I wouldn’t have to mind about going grocery shopping or cooking, nor for searching an apartment. This saved me a lot of trouble, and sooner than I expected, I was on my way to Quito.
Arriving in Quito
I landed in Quito close to midnight, after about 20 hours of flying and changing planes. I was curious what was going to await me in the following days, and also a bit scared. As soon as I left the luggage area though, there wasn’t any need to be scared anymore. Washington was there to welcome me, and he managed to make me feel comfortable in a matter of seconds. My host mum also welcomed me with open arms and finally I was able to rest.
The next day we went to visit the school. Everybody was really nice when I arrived there, I got to know all the staff, the teachers and the students who were there at the moment, as well as my workplace. I was supposed to start the next week on Monday, so I had the weekend to rest and get adjusted.
Starting my internship
On my first day I got a lot of information from the headquarter of Ailola in Germany which was a bit overwhelming, but throughout the first few weeks I got everything figured out. My first big task was to translate the website of Ailola Quito from English into German. Additionally, I also had a lot of smaller ongoing tasks, for example keeping the social media channels of Ailola Quito updated, and collecting the feedback of Ailola students. Throughout the weeks, I established some kind of routine. I started working at 8:30h in the morning, joined the break of the students at 11:00h and then worked another hour until 12:30h. During lunch break I usually went to have lunch with some students, showing them the best restaurants with great view over Quito with typical Ecuadorian food.
Taking Spanish lessons
In the afternoon I had three hours of Spanish class in Quito every day which could get pretty exhausting, but helped a lot to improve my Spanish. I studied with a lot of different teachers, and together we reviewed everything I already learned in school and university before, making sure that I get everything straight before moving on to new stuff. The different teachers all had different strengths; one was better structured in grammar, and the other one’s strength was engaging you in conversation. This combination of different teachers really helped to practice every part of the language, like grammar, speaking and writing.
Now I can say that I’m pretty much fluent in Spanish, not perfect, but I have picked up a lot during the last six months. Another advantage of changing teachers every week is that you get used to different accents and ways of talking. Also, the stay in my host family helped a lot, because we were conversing every day at the dinner table about all different topics.
So this is basically what my days looked like: working, Spanish, dinner, sleeping. Of course, throughout the week I also did a lot with students. There are a few nice cafés in the center where I had coffee with friends once in a while. Also, every Wednesday, there was “Ladie’s night” in a club in the party district “La Mariscal” where we went to regularly, so the Thursdays turned out to be kind of a torture… On the weekends I traveled a lot, usually with students from the school. I visited Otavalo, the Cuicocha lagoon, the Cotopaxi (before the eruption), Quilotoa and Cuenca, as well as Puerto López and Isla de la Plata.
One week in October, the school’s director Eugenio sent me to join a language program of the school in the Amazon called “Living with the Shuars”. I was able to participate in all of the fun activities that were offered to the students in order to take pictures and write about the program. It was amazing to get to know the life of this indigenous group in the Amazon, also, because I have never been there.
Summarizing my experience
As you guys can see, I had a great time here at Ailola Quito. In the mornings I always had something to work on, there wasn’t a time that I was bored at work. After the translation task I had to do some link building for a few weeks, and after that I visited all our host families, took pictures of the homes and wrote descriptions about them in order to integrate the accommodations on the website.
Also, one of my tasks was to do the orientation for the new students that arrived. I had to explain their program to them, show them the school, and answer all their questions. Answering questions was a big part of my work anyway. Everybody who wasn’t speaking Spanish very well yet, turned to me when there was anything that needed to be organized. It was great to meet so many students from different countries, not to mention the extremely friendly and fun Ecuadorians I met.
I had a great time during my internship, and can only recommend Ailola Quito to everybody who is thinking about working abroad in Ecuador for some time. The atmosphere in the school is great, you are working independently, and from the beginning on you are able to take over a lot of responsibility. You won’t regret choosing Ailola Quito! A big thanks to Philip from the German headquarter of Ailola, and the staff, teachers, and students that turned my internship experience here in Quito into a great one! I will miss working with all of you!
Originally published by Stefanie Wohlfahrt at Ailola on December 8, 2015.