Shannon Boyd returned to the United States after a three-month international culinary internship at Hotel Torralbenc, a 4-star resort on the Spanish Island of Menorca, located on the Mediterranean Sea.
April 30, 2016, marked the first day of this young culinary student’s great adventure that would start her training career towards becoming a professional chef.
Boyd, assisted by UAV director of career services, Karen Frahm and Chef Instructor Marcus McNeil, applied with “Live it Out,” an organization that facilitates university internships for hospitality, culinary and tourism disciplines in Spain and guides students and universities through academic policies, studying and living abroad, communicating with home, safety, health, packing tips and much more. McNeil’s advice to Boyd before her internship began was simply, “Reach far and you will achieve.”
The student-intern living environment was diverse, her roommates, in what Boyd referred to as their flat, were French, Spanish, African and she was the only American. She recalls how hospitable the living environment was and how she was welcomed with opened arms. The language differences were quickly lost in the camaraderie formed between students living and working together and quickly becoming great friends. Boyd stated, “Language was not a deterrent, we understood one another, we almost forgot we were not speaking the same language.”
Of course, her thoughts were that interning at Hotel Torralbenc as the newbie on a Spanish Island speaking Poquito Español would be difficult. To Boyd’s surprise, her coworkers and fellow student-interns wanted to learn English from her as she improved her Spanish speaking skills; this arrangement became productive for everyone working and living together.
Boyd described the most challenging aspect of interning in a foreign county was definitely not the language barrier but that she missed her family. Her advice to other students that plan to study abroad is to have you mind made up before you depart; know that you have to finish what you started. Boyd said she was extremely homesick the first week but her family encouraged her to not give up, you’ve come too far. Finish. “I worked one week, two weeks and then I knew I could stay one month, two months—at the end of my three month stay I did not want to leave,” stated Shannon Boyd. “I learned so much in the kitchen, the chefs were very informative, giving, patient and willing to teach, and I made life-long friends”
Boyd took a skill set to Hotel Torralbenc that the chefs found very impressive. She became known for breaking down (dismantling) the kitchen equipment for cleaning and always keeping a pristine work station ––kitchen cleanliness and precise knife skills were some of the areas in which she excelled and the Spanish team taught her speed including when and how to ramp up service, a lesson learned well as related in her exit evaluation.