My name is Sophia. I come from near Frankfurt, Germany and stayed in Bristol in the summer of 2016 for 6 weeks.
I am doing an apprenticeship as an architectural draughtswoman and it is obligatory to spend 12 weeks of internship to get practice experience whether it's in another office, a building site or, well, abroad. So I decided to take the last option for 6 weeks and do my research on the internet into which exact possibilities I had. Believe me - there are many and it's quite hard to pick the right one for yourself and there is a lot of paperwork to do! But as I am home now, I can truly say it's absolutely worth it.
So I came to azubi mobil, a German organisation by the German IHK (Industrie Handelskammer = Chamber of Industry and Commerce). They are responsible for all my activities during my apprenticeship so I am able to do my final exams etc. I chose this organisation because of that reason and because they seemed very positive, serious and official. There are a lot of organisations like them but just a few seem very serious and worth it. I was a little bit concerned as to whether my internship in an office abroad would be counted and appreciated by this chamber because all my school mates in my current class only or mainly do the building site internships and none of them went abroad either. You need quite a lot of courage and good language skills, yes. But why not just give it a try?
I spent 2 weeks in Wisconsin, USA already for a school exchange programme in my 10th year class, maybe that was why I wasn't afraid at all to do this - why would you miss out on all the new experiences that will widen your horizon and that in your chosen profession is highly regarded also? Not only do you meet new, cool people, it will also help you a LOT in your future. An internship abroad changes your whole attitude and outlook, your tolerance and understanding and your behaviour towards new people and situations. You become so much more flexible and open minded, which are assets highly appreciated by employers nowadays. My personal motivation why I wanted to do it besides the obligatory part was that I am firstly very keen to speak English that's why this dream developed to become an international architect one day and these kind of experiences will bring you so much further. Secondly I am a very curious person and I had never been to England before so I wanted to get to know its culture. I believe there's no better way to do that than living in another country for longer than just for a short 2-3 week holiday. Actually I didn't chose Bristol at first! I wanted to head to the capital city but luckily (!) azubi mobil didn't have any more capacity there and asked me if I wanted to go to Bristol. I say luckily because after I visited London for two weekends when I had some time off this summer and although this capital really deserves its title as a world city, it was just too huge and hectic for me. I couldn't imagine working there as I'd be too rushed all the time. And I really fell on love with Bristol! It's such a creative, alternative diversified city where every place you go has its uniqueness without seeming fake. The mentality of its people is very open, down-to-earth and highly influenced by eco-friendly behaviour - as it was Europe's green capital in 2015 and they didn't stop acting like that at all. I am drawn to environmentally- friendly behaviour in every regard, whether it's food, cosmetics, clothing or yes, also my profession included: building. So all in all I really try to have an eco-friendly lifestyle so that's why Bristol was really MY kind of place. Due to a missed flight I had to take a long-track bus, so my way to England took me 16 hours to get there, that's why I was very happy to see my lovely host mom eventually at the Bristol bus station, you can imagine! They have 2 younger girls, who were later joined by their older brother who worked summer-job-wise in Greece. As pets they have one own dog and from time to time a friends' dogs to keep an eye on, a gecko and fish. They're really into food (their son is a chef!) so serving fresh healthy food is their standard! I really appreciated that fact. They run an independent wine company that exports and imports wine to/ from all over Europe, so they really suffered from the Brexit as much as my Internship placement office, DHVA did.
Ditttrichhudsonvasetti (short: dhva) has a very international structure: there are three head architects, one is German, one is British and the third is Italian. Currently they also have another Italian architect and in September a Spanish architect filling my seat as an intern. It helps a lot to find new innovative different ideas together since every single member of this office has a very open minded attitude. During my time there, I started my work doing elevations of a current object on the computer drawing programme AutoCAD that was based on a 3D elevation of that object. I had to organize the office’s CAD symbols for furniture, people, trees and cars and could improve my drawing skills by doing that. I could also come to some meetings on building sites or finished objects to take some architectural photographs. I got to learn how to basically work with Photoshop. I made two miniature models. One of harder card board and one made of finer card board that is still very stable to improve my 3D vision skills. They also announced me as the official office’s social media manager and I was able to organise all their public photographs that they partially also published in several magazines. I could also improve my skills of architectural drawing by hand by creating a direction description how to come to the (relatively new) office’s location. Additionally I got the time to learn new architecture vocabularies in English and finish my 3 table projection tasks that I still had from my German teacher. My last task of this list was to update an excel table about the Major Repair Areas (MRA) for the Salisbury Cathedral Conservation for each craft.
During my free time in Bristol I used to go for a run in one of the many parks in our neighbourhood, visit some sights of Bristol like the Suspension Bridge, the Harbour (Fest), Stonehenge, Motion, the Bristol Art Museum, Mshed, Brendon Hill Park and Cabot Tower, Arnos Vale Cemetry, Upfest, the Uni’s Botanical garden and as a final event, the International Baloon Fiesta on my own. I also did several trips to other cities with friends. One was to Bath by bike, two weekends I spent in London that I went to by megabus.
This internship will help me a lot in my future since I plan to become an international architect later and it is very helpful to have gained this work experience abroad now already on one hand for myself but also for my future employers so they are more willing to employ me abroad when they see that I already have this experience. I will also probably go back to dhva after my apprenticeship to use the time between the end of my apprenticeship and the start of my studies, so, B.I.G. thank you so much for making this connection between me and this great office with great people and this great city of Bristol!
All in all, one can say that I would definitely recommend this experience to everyone who wants to make more out of their (work) life. It’s so enriching, you get to know new people, new cultures and gain so much necessary life experience, additionally you are also doing something good for your career!