Whether it’s “vamos a la playa!” or “où est la piscine” there are certain obligatory set phrases which instantly spring to mind when we think about foreign languages. Unfortunately, they don’t always have the desired effect and often fail to impress the locals as we might have hoped.

In order to spare our trainees and students this indignity, they are given the opportunity to practise a foreign language abroad. Once again in 2016, some of MANN+HUMMEL’s young talents left their homeland to spend some time in another country so they could hone their language skills and gain work experience. A few of them wrote about their experiences and shared them with us on our blog.

From Europe to the exotic

Anastasia Doulgkeri, an apprentice mechatronics engineer at MANN+HUMMEL, is one of the lucky trainees. Having recently taken part in a four-week work placement in England, she now has no problem juggling English technical terms in addition to her already-impressive knowledge in German. Anastasia applied for the placement as part of the EU’s Erasmus programme and, before long, she found herself on a flight bound for Birmingham. After a week of language training, it was time to begin the actual placement at Baker & Finnemore Ltd, where Anastasia reported to chief electronic engineer David Porter. Even if the Brummie accent was hard to understand, and some of the sayings rather curious to the uninitiated, our young trainee had a unique and rewarding time there. And her experiences once again proved the saying “different countries, different customs” to be true.

Marina Mäurer also spent some time abroad last year. As part of her work-study programme at MANN+HUMMEL, she had already previously spent a semester studying in Edinburgh. This clearly awoke the wanderlust in her, and soon enough she had planned her next stay abroad for 2016, this time choosing a practical semester in Buenos Aires. This involved three months spent on site, providing support to our HR and Controlling departments.

The local colleagues welcomed our young student with open arms and, as well as supporting her in her day-to-day work, they also helped her to get settled and organised free-time activities for her. As well as gaining professional experience, Marina learned something else particularly useful here: the value of non-verbal communication! Although she has been learning Spanish for over six years, from time to time her words failed her but she was always able to find a way around this using communicative gestures. It just goes to show, it’s always worth learning something new. Talking of new things, our intrepid M+Her also had the chance to explore the country outside of work, discovering some unknown spots that, for many of us, are the stuff of dreams.

Markus Lutz also spent his semester abroad around 30 degrees south of the Equator. He and Marina were ‘only’ separated by the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean, i.e. around 7681 miles or 13 hours! As part of his work-study placement in the field of Business Administration/International Business, Markus took the opportunity to spend a few months studying at Bond University in Brisbane, Australia. Markus’ roommates, from Australia and Canada, encouraged him to adjust to the local language and helped improve his skills. This allowed Markus to quickly build a network of international friends, who accompanied him on trips to various exciting destinations, including through the desert. Teamwork was key here, both at uni and during his free time and, having shared such wonderful experiences, Markus and his new friends have remained in touch despite living on different continents.

Have you ever tried a soup containing just a single long noodle? Presumably, Carmen Pfob looked suitably bewildered as this tradition was explained to her on her birthday in China. This student’s trip to Asia represented the fulfilment of a lifelong dream as she spent last year providing support to MANN+HUMMEL’s Controlling team in Shanghai. Here, too, the employees were on hand to assist, and work colleagues soon became friends who also helped Carmen celebrate the aforementioned birthday. This gave Carmen a special insight into the culture and the country as a whole during her time there. In our blog, she shares her experiences with readers and advises anyone visiting China to take a walk in the park; not so much for the relaxation, but rather to experience the hustle and bustle and the music.

Our blog will give you greater insights into the experiences of our trainees and students and, of course, we also have a few tales from previous years lined up for you. Whether you want to learn about places worth visiting, unique traditions or key language requirements, you will find a wide range of tips and tricks for your next trip to another country. Maybe you will be the next to regale us with your adventures on our blog?