Many students have this on their bucket list: travel. But why wait until you have your degree? Every year, many Saxion students spread their wings and study abroad. Third-year Tourism Management student Lara Heinze from Germany, got back from Colombia last month after completing an internship at a travel company.
Hi Lara, what did you do in Colombia?
“Between February and August I did an internship in the capital Bogotá in the product department of travel company Pure!Colombia They have offices in five South American countries. My main tasks were updating the TOOGO software, which was implemented to simplify procedures, and translating texts into German. I also checked the English translations. Next to this, I helped the sales team by processing their travel itineraries in the software, writing a travel guide, calling German customers and checking room availability at hotels. Last but not least, we sometimes got to inspect hotels in Bogotá with our colleagues.”
Why did you choose to do an internship in Colombia?
“I fancied a challenge in a new culture and that's why I wanted to go to a continent I'd never been to before. Besides, I didn't want to work in a hotel. Colombia was the country that ultimately best fitted the bill."
How was your adventure?
“I really enjoyed my internship, mainly because of everything I learned from my mentor. Like most Colombians, he is very proud of his country and really knows a lot about more or less every part of the country and all that was on offer. I really enjoyed getting acquainted with a new culture and new surroundings. Sometimes that was quite difficult, because my life was so different from life in the Netherlands. For example, I couldn't go out on the streets in the evening. I always had to take an Uber or taxi, which was strange as I am used to doing everything on foot or by bike. However, I would do it again tomorrow, because I learned so much and it made me grow as a person.
It’s a unique experience. You not only grow as a person, but you have a lot of life changing experiences that you would never have staying in your comfort zone.
What did you like best about your internship?
"The inspections. There was always a relaxed atmosphere and I could improve my Spanish while learning more about our product. Like one time we were invited to the reopening of a hotel. After we were shown around and everything was explained, we stayed for a while and there was live music. That was a really memorable experience.”
What was the most wonderful thing you saw in your free time?
“Colombia: travelling through the country during weekend trips. After my internship I did that for another month with my family. After translating all the activities, hotels and regions of Colombia, it was well worth experiencing the country up close. If I have to mention something specific, it is Nuqui, a small fishing village on the Pacific coast. You can only reach this village by plane and then by boat to your hotel, as there are no streets or roads at all in Nuqui. We could watch the whales swimming by from our hotel room or when relaxing in a hammock. There were almost no people, which made it a real paradise.”
What did you learn from your adventure?
“I think the most important thing I learned is that good management is very important for the health of a company. When a management change took place in my internship company, I noticed a negative working atmosphere develop for me and my colleagues. That was a real eye opener for me.”
Would you recommend studying abroad to other students?
“I would always recommend students to study abroad, because I think, with all the mixing of cultures these days, it's important to get to know different cultures and learn to adapt to others. It’s a unique experience. You not only grow as a person, but you have a lot of life changing experiences that you would never have staying in your comfort zone.”