Hajnalka, originating in Hungary, took part in Erasmus+ internship three years ago, after she graduated International Relations studies in United Kingdom. Her case is really unique; not only Hajnalka´s receiving organization was WorkSpace Europe itself, she enjoyed her stay so much, she decided to live and find a job in Slovakia. During the interview with Placement Slovakia representative Hajnalka revealed more about her internship, three-years lasting Slovak experience, and the reasons why she moved eventually.
Your home country is Hungary; you attended the university in United Kingdom. Why Slovakia then?
Actually, I always wanted to visit Bratislava, but I never got a chance. When I found out there is a possibility to take a work internship after the graduation and the positions are available also in Slovakia, I did not hesitate a minute and I applied. Although I was afraid a bit at the beginning due to the media picture of Slovak – Hungarian relations, after two weeks I realized there was nothing to be worried about. Plus, the internship was a perfect opportunity; I was always interested in these European mobility programmes. It was six of us coming from UK that time. I believe, I was the luckiest one.
I got a chance to work for WorkSpace Europe. The truth is I did not succeed at the very first selection for traineeship, however, one of the interns cancelled his mobility and I got a call if I am still interested. I was told there is an option to work directly for WorkSpace Europe. I agreed and I had the best three months working there.
What were you responsible for?
Different type of tasks. I was managing one of the European mobility programmes, e-mailing the candidates, checking them for the interview time, etc. I searched the Hungarian universities and organizations also; to find new positions for Slovak students interested in taking the internship abroad. Besides, I looked for possible marketing channels to spread the information about the internship programmes.
How would you evaluate your traineeship experience on a scale from 1 to ten?
10! (Laughing). Seriously, I had such an amazing experience thanks to WorkSpace Europe, so I decided to stay in Bratislava.
That´s quite a rare decision. What happened afterwards? Did you succeed to find a job?
I applied in one corporate company, where I spent four months. It was the easiest way to get a job; plus, I wanted to get skills from the global office environment. Unfortunately, the job was not as good as I expected. It was very stressful and I didn´t have a feeling they compensate enough for the effort that we made. I quit eventually and left to Hungary to take another internship – at the Council of Europe, where I stayed for five months. However, I knew I did not want to stay in Hungary and I remembered how much I fancied the life in Slovakia. After getting a job in logistics company in Hungary with the option to work also in a branch set in Slovakia, I decided to move back to Bratislava.
Was this job better than the one in the corporation?
Actually, my company was doing logistics for the corporation (laughing). It was great, although, after two years I reached the level which was the highest possible to achieve. Since we were only small office and I could not grow anymore, I do not see the future there anymore.
What are your next plans?
I am moving to Italy.
You could switch the job, not all country!
(Laughing) I got a feeling I want to try this and if you never try, you never know. I always wanted to learn Italian; I even studied it a bit at high school, but somehow I stopped. After I moved to Slovakia for the second time, I started to take Italian lessons. Now the time to practise the language in a real environment has come.
Do you have a job there?
Actually, I got a scholarship, so I will spend a month at a language school. Meanwhile, I will be looking for a job. I am staying realistic, though, knowing there are also troubles with job opportunities.
We wish you good luck, then! What will you miss the most about the life in Slovakia?
I guess the comfortable and relaxed lifestyle resulting from the city size and my last job. Bratislava is a very convenient place to live in, the interpersonal interaction is much easier, since it is neither small, nor big. On the one hand, you can get to know a lot of people, on the other one encounter them by coincidence on the street without organizing the meeting in advance.
Wasn´t a language barrier a problem?
Not really. I faced such a problem only in official institutions; for instance, when I had to register at foreign police. Sometimes I got lucky and they spoke Hungarian. However, in bars or restaurants were mainly young people and they all spoke English. If not, I helped myself with some Slovak.
Did you learn the language?
At the beginning I took a course, but I dropped it when I went to Hungary. Afterwards, I did not want to start again since I found it as a very difficult language which for some reason did not want to stay in my head.
What did you find as a biggest difference between Slovakia and Hungary?
Honestly not much. Bratislava reminds me of small Budapest. The biggest difference is the language, so I didn’t have any kind of intercultural shock other people might have.
If you can travel back in time, would you change something?
Regarding internship, no. Regarding corporation, I might make a different decision.
Would you recommend WorkSpace Europe to your friends? Or have you already?
Yes, absolutely and I already did! (laughing) Even now I am telling university students, please, go and do this programme because it’s one of the best experience you can do while you are young and student.
For me it was the best and I am happy I could do it.