Snezhana Iskrenova, BA (Hons) Tourism, Hospitality & Leisure Management, Erasmus exchangeEver since arriving in England, Snezhana Iskrenova wanted to work in the tourism, hospitality and leisure industry, with its ever-growing opportunities
"It's a big, growing industry which means more opportunities for work," she explains. "With that in mind, I researched the top universities for tourism and travel degrees, and LSBU's BA (Hons) Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure Management degree immediately stood out. It was the only university I looked at which offered me the chance to undertake work experience during my degree, which was a very important feature to me."
Snezhana quickly settled into life at LSBU, describing the facilities as 'excellent' and the location, at the heart of London, as 'perfect'. When the time came to choose her work experience, Snezhana quickly realised that the Erasmus programme would provide her with a superb opportunity to take a work placement abroad, rather than in the UK.
Opportunities to learn
"I want to gain an International Diploma at the end of my studies, so I needed to undertake an internship abroad," says Snezhana. "As a result, I applied to the Erasmus programme without hesitation and I was delighted when I secured a placement at the Thon chain in Brussels. There are five Thon hotels and two Thon residences there, all in excellent locations, so there are plenty of opportunities for me to learn different things."
Snezhana lives and works with students from other countries, and the group share their experiences and help each other. "We teach each other our own languages, prepare special meals that demonstrate our national culture and cuisine, and explore Brussels together," she says. "In our spare time we also visit other cities such as Bridges, Antwerp and Oostende. I've taken a day trip to Amsterdam, and I hope to visit Luxembourg soon as well."
Snezhana's placement sees her based on one of the Thon hotels, but spends one day a week training in the chain's other properties which she feels has increased her understanding of the industry. "It is a good chance to learn one particular department very well indeed, but to also have a good understanding of the other elements that go into making a hotel work efficiently," she says.
"The Erasmus programme is a great opportunity to spend between three months and a year in another country," says Snezhana. "It takes you out of your comfort zone but that also means you are showing you are able to work under pressure and rise to a challenge. It has given me a unique perspective, showing me how things are dine in different cultures and allowing me to learn from this. I really believe it will give me an edge when I start looking for work."
Impress potential employers
Snezhana is delighted with the extra experience she has gained as a result of her involvement in the Erasmus programme, and recommends it to other students, regardless of their area of study. "It's a memorable and enjoyable experience that impresses potential employers," she says. "There's no doubt in my mind that an international work placement is more impressive to employers than one taken at home, especially if you are planning to work abroad. I am so glad I took part in the programme – I wish I could do it for every year of my studies!"
Find out more about where you can go on an Erasmus exchange.