MScEF Experience: Internship and life in Barcelona

Hello! I am Lauma Elza Miezīte MSc European Forestry second-year student from Latvia. I am currently studying at my second-year university – the University of Lleida in Spain. This time I wanted to share with you my experience with moving to Spain and my internship there. Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic started everything has been very complicated and confusing. Initially, my internship in Diputació de Barcelona was supposed to start at the beginning of June. However, Covid-19 made its alterations.

I traveled to Spain at the beginning of June. I did 14-day quarantine and then on the 17th of June, I was ready to start my internship. My applied period supervisor was Jorge Jürgens Mestre. I am incredibly thankful to him for agreeing to supervise me during this time. This was my first time in Spain and I knew nothing about Mediterranean forestry, therefore, at the very beginning, I was a bit worried about how working in the new ecosystem is going to be like. However, my supervisor was very welcoming and helpful; we started my internship with field visits. He explained to me basic concepts that would be important for me to know, for example, climatic conditions, forest history, and main threats. In addition, I learned about forest management here.

I really appreciated that I had an opportunity to work both in an office and on the field. My fieldwork mostly included forest inventory, site visits (e.g. assessment of site conditions before and after thinning), and meetings. My main project during this time was restoration for the wetland site. I really appreciate this opportunity to earn experience in the directions I have not worked before.

I would also like to share my experience about moving to Barcelona and living there. This was my first time in Spain, therefore, culture and everything was entirely new to me. In addition, I had no Spanish knowledge. This led to many shocking, fun, and a bit frustrating moments. Firstly, I was surprised how easy apartment finding in Barcelona was for me. It took me only four days search in Facebook groups. I faced some problems at first because I was only looking for a place for 2.5 months and I did not speak in Spanish. However, I manage to find an apartment in a great location – very centric and 15 minutes from my office. In addition, I had amazing flatmates. I am very thankful to them for the great welcoming and for helping me out so many times. They are also one of the reasons I know Barcelona so well now. I tried to see and visited as much as possible in the city and its surroundings taking all the necessary precautions. Barcelona is a wonderful city, and I feel that even after three months of living in it, there is so much more to see. It may sound a bit crazy, I spent only 3 months living there but it felt like home.

Living abroad is very beneficial, mind-opening, and fun. You get to see many different places, meet new people, however, sometimes it can be challenging. I really loved living in Barcelona, yet the first few weeks were a bit tough. Before going I was warned that it is hard to survive with only English, however, I think I fully understood what I got myself into only once I arrived in Barcelona. First few weeks I avoided going somewhere/doing something that required speaking. Nevertheless, it pushed me to learn the language and not to be scared to practice. At the end of the summer all everyday necessities I was able to do on my own. In addition, Spanish culture is very different from Latvian there are still things that surprise me and need to get used to. For example, siesta (nap) time. This means that almost everything between 14 and 17 is closed. Finally, the food is quite different. I think the first time I went shopping, I spent nearly an hour and in the end bought almost nothing. For instance, I spent quite a lot of time looking for the fridge with milk to find out that in shops they do not keep milk in the fridge. In addition, I got familiar with Spanish cuisine and I really like their food.

To sum up, I got an amazing experience last summer. I got an internship I really enjoyed; I learned so many things there. When I arrived at the University of Lleida and started to study, I felt that many concepts were easier for me to grab because of the knowledge I gained in my internship. I had real examples in my mind. I had my struggles but I think it was all worth it. Good things usually do not come very easy; you have to work for them.

I hope this post helped to get a glimpse of life in Barcelona and the MSc European Forestry internship. I have attached some pictures of nature and us having a nice time. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me on my personal email: lauma.elza@gmail.com. 🙂

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