Year Abroad Destinations:
Semester 1 – Completed an internship in a Hotel in Puerto Banús, Marbella
Semester 2 – Studied at National Autonomous University of Mexico
When I was I younger, I used to watch a show about two kids that lived in a hotel and made friends with all the other people that lived and worked there (The Suite Life of Zack and Cody anyone?). I never imagined that one day, I’d be able to live that same experience (admittedly, mine was not as wild as theirs). What I also never imagined, was that I’d be living just a few minutes away from the beach, in one of Europe’s most exclusive tourist destinations.
To this day, I still find it hilarious to be able to say that I did my year abroad in Marbella. But it was not just Marbella, more specifically a very exclusive part of the Marbella area a few kilometres down along the coast. Some of you may have heard of it – the infamous Puerto Banús, commonly referred to as ‘Costa del Sol’s playground for the rich and wealthy’, it is known for its extravagant (and extortionately-priced) beach clubs and “buzzing nightlife” (origin of this phrase: most likely ‘The Only Way is Essex’). Most popular amongst British, Irish, German, Kuwaiti and Saudi Arabian tourists, the streets of Puerto Banús are lined with expensive luxury boutiques such as Christian Dior, Gucci and Versace. Everything comes together around the ‘jewel’ of the town, the marina, which is filled with yachts belonging to international celebrities and several of the world’s wealthiest individuals, including the King of Saudi Arabia. Just to add bit more spice (or golden sparkles) to the mix, next to each one of these yachts you will find either a Ferrari, Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini or some sort of special-edition supercar parked proudly for all to see.
The first day that I arrived, I couldn’t help but be taken aback by the prestige and grandeur of the resort, but as a 20-year-old student, I also felt rather out of place! To be quite honest, as a holiday destination, Puerto Banús, Marbella would probably be my idea of hell, and I don’t think that I would be jumping at it as my first-choice location, not least because it would be waaay out of my budget. However, there was something about living there that gave me almost the exact opposite feeling. The town is set to a stunning backdrop of a striking-mountain known to the locals as ‘La Concha’ (because apparently it looks like a seashell…) and from the beach, you can see out to Morocco and the Rock of Gibraltar. The sunrises and sunsets are amongst the most beautiful that I have ever seen (and most days, I made sure that I went to the beach to see them). The atmosphere was surprisingly calm. Almost all of its residents own gorgeous dogs and you can walk along the beach promenade for miles and miles in either direction to all the other surrounding towns – I found this to be a very enjoyable and relaxing activity. That is not the mention the fact that the weather was nothing short of incredible – It was not until mid-November that the temperature started to drop below 20°C and it only rained twice in all the months that I was there. I felt as though I was living in paradise.
Now to the main point, what on earth was I doing there! I was working in Sales and Marketing for one of the biggest and busiest hotels in the area. They had given me a pretty good deal as well, as I had my own room in the hotel and all my meals were provided for me – I’m especially grateful for that since Puerto Banús is so expensive, it really did save me a serious amount of money! I was working in an office with five other people who were of a variety of ages, from 28 to 55 years-old, including my boss, who was a flamenco dancer and singer in her spare time (that’s Andaulcía for you!). It was a pretty eclectic mix but we got along surprisingly well. I learnt a great deal of palabrotas and I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much in my life – working in an office is not always as serious as you think.
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Keep an eye out for Part 2 on lessons learned, it’s COMING SOON!
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