Portrait of Isabell Späth - Apprentice at Kathrein

Staying abroad is a personal gain for young people and is particularly useful for the job or studies. Isabell Späth is doing an apprenticeship as an industrial management assistant at Kathrein. In November 2015 she had the opportunity to spend 3 weeks in London to do an internship at an English company. This was enabled by the European Erasmus+ Programme and supported by the KulturLife organisation. Her employer released her from work and assumed the costs. A field report summarises her impressions.

I had to make several preparations before staying abroad. The organisations asked us to write a letter of motivation in German, as well as in English; we also had to prepare a European CV in English. Furthermore, every participant had an interview in English and we all had to summarise our reasons as to why we would like to take part in this journey. With these tasks, our English knowledge was tested.

Each student also had the task of making a self-evaluation. It comprised listening comprehension and speaking , as well as social aspects, like self-confidence. Our English teacher, Ms Grossmann, arranged several English lessons for learning the neccessary vocabulary and for getting to know some cultural background.

Our group consisted of 12 girls. On 8 November 2015 we left Munich at 07:40 am and arrived at Heathrow at 09:00 am. A bus driver from the KulturLife organisation picked us up and took us to a collecting point near Honor Oak. Our host families were waiting there for us and we could get our first impressions of London.

Our host family was quite nice, but we were not fully integrated into their daily family life. We had a separate little flat, consisting of a bedroom, kitchen and bathroom that we shared with two other French girls. Due to this, it was also a good chance for improving my French skills. Every day, our host mother came into our flat and put our dinner in the kitchen. She always asked us if everthing was okay and gave us useful tips for managing life in London.

On the second day, our group attended a foreign language school. An English teacher organized an introductory day and helped us to find our ways to our companies. He also informed us about typical English culture and way of life. My daily trip to work was very impressive and unusual. I lived with my host family in Catford and had to commute to Holborn, which is in the centre of London. I used several methods of public transport -- like buses, trains and tubes and I had to change very often. On my way to work I could already see some interesting sights, like London Eye, Big Ben and the famous Tower Bridge.

I worked with another student from my class at the "Sheridian Main" recruiting company. My working area was in the office and my classmate worked at the reception. My main tasks were administrative data input duties. I downloaded CVs and looked after communication with candidates in order to update the company‘s database. Furthermore, I did characteristic office work, like  filing documents and processing Excel lists.

Our working hours were 09:00 am to 5:00 pm. On two days, Pia (my classmate) and I were allowed to leave our work earlier to  spend some time in the city and to get to know London better. The working hours for our colleagues were longer and it became apparent that the working conditions and methods were different from Germany.

On the weekends, we could do some fantastic sightseeing and shopping. Many impressive sights, such as the City of London, Greenwich, London Eye, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, Madame Tussauds, Buckingham Palace and also the famous Oxford Street and Hyde Park made our stay memorable. Ms. Grossmann visited us for one week and got informed about our tasks in the  companies, asked about our well-being and made a great sightseeing tour with us.

Despite some minor challenges, my stay in London was a great success. It  boosted my self-confidence enormously, because I had to master any given situation in English. Furthermore, I improved my listening comprehension and my English speaking. I gained very interesting insights into an English company and had many positive  experiences. I met people from different cultural backgrounds and could witness the London lifestyle. Additionally, I could visit many interesting sights at the weekends  and got to know London in all its facets. In my opinion, one should use the opportunity of staying abroad, if given the chance.


Isabell Späth