Chris Jones

Country of origin: United Kingdom

Airport IT Marketing Executive, Amadeus, Spain

Chis spent a term in Thailand as part of his BBA, and also did a placement year with Amadeus in Spain. He was subsequently recruited by the company and is based in Madrid.

Bangkok is not the first destination that springs to mind when considering a student exchange. However, I’ve always wanted to travel around South East Asia, and the minute I saw it I thought this was a unique opportunity to combine study and cultural experience.

Nothing really prepares you for the culture shock that occurs when in Asia for the first time - particularly in less developed countries such as Thailand. Bangkok itself is surprisingly modern and you can find anything you would do in Europe from shops such as Tesco, Boots and Subway.

My accommodation was centrally located, sharing a room in a four-person apartment with free use of on-site gym, sauna, steam room, swimming pool and even a daily-maid service. Chulalongkorn University was great. It is the best in Thailand and has a dedicated International BBA program. The classes were very interesting and I learnt a lot about business in Asia. There were 70+ people on the exchange from 20+ countries, bringing an interesting and diverse range of opinions into class discussions. Whilst there I managed to visit the North and South of Thailand as well as Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore.

For me, being on exchange in Bangkok led to the best five months of my life, and my only regret is I could not stay for the entire year. If you get this opportunity please don’t pass it up; you’ll never look back.

Placement

With no knowledge of Spanish and only being offered the job less than two weeks before-hand this truly was going to be an adventure! I slept on a 'friend of a friend's' sofa the first week before moving into my own room, sharing a flat with three other people from Brazil, Morocco and Spain. The downside, which ultimately became a huge advantage, was that none of my flatmates spoke English.

Working life in Spain is great. The job was in English and my working hours were around 9:30-6:30 with an hour lunch. The culture is very relaxed and I gained a true appreciation of what the term 'work/life' balance means. I loved my job – solely supporting and shadowing a Global Marketing Manager for the Amadeus Cars team. My boss was the best and most influential person on my career to date and the level of responsibility I was given was truly amazing.

I’ve always been interested in learning another language so this truly was the perfect opportunity. I made every conscious effort to learn Spanish and rarely socialised with English people. Despite not taking any professional lessons, and through sheer hard work and dedication, I was verbally fluent in Spanish by the end of my placement. Moving to another country truly does make you much more open-minded. Finally, my hard work was fully appreciated within Amadeus and as a result I was runner-up in the category for 'Best Placement Student' at the 'UK National Placement and Internship Awards 2011'.

After graduating I returned to work for Amadeus, in IT marketing.