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‘I love everything about England – apart from driving on the wrong side!’At first, 19-year-old Matej from Izola, a picturesque town at the Slovenian coast, simply wanted to improve his English. That’s why he got in touch with his local EURES Adviser, Mirela Pekica, to help him find a summer job in England. But when Wakefield Careforce, a homecare provider based in West Yorkshire, offered Matej a job as a healthcare assistant, the young Slovenian couldn’t imagine to what extent this summer job would leave a lasting impression on him.
Matej was launched headfirst into the world of employment and the required administration – helped no end by his impressive English, which he learned at school: ‘When I arrived in England, I first had to go to Leeds for an interview with the local jobcentre to get my National Insurance Number. Then I had to complete a training programme to qualify as a healthcare assistant. I had five days to study two books on healthcare and sit a test in the end.’
Once Matej proved his new knowledge in healthcare, the ambitious young man was faced with the challenges of his new job. ‘After the induction programme, the company gave me a car and I started working. It was hard in the beginning because there were a lot of patients with different needs that I had to take care of.’ Matej visited people who were in need of healthcare assistance and helped them through their daily routine. He assisted them with their daily hygiene, took their blood pressure, and changed bandages.
But after a couple of weeks, the sun was shining down on Matej: ‘Once I got to know the patients a bit better, everything was much easier. I enjoyed my job and went to work every day with a smile on my face. It was great to help people and I loved every second of my work. While doing this job, I started to look at the world in a different way. Before, I didn’t know that people could suffer so much and that they needed so much help and assistance.’
And as time moved on, his work was not the only thing that Matej started loving. ‘In the beginning, I didn’t like English food as it was so different to the food I was used to. But after a while I started eating only English food. I really love everything about England. The only thing I found challenging was to drive on the “wrong” side!’
Matej really made the most of his work experience abroad. He made new friends from England, the Czech Republic, Poland and even Guatemala. With his new friends he travelled across the country, enjoyed the British pubs and went to the cinema. ‘I got to know a lot of fantastic people and made a lot of friends, who I still keep in touch with.’
After four months of working with Wakefield Careforce, Matej had to return to Slovenia to finish high school. It was only then that he realised to what extent his summer job had an impact on his attitude and his future plans. Besides constantly eating banana sandwiches and Yorkshire pudding, he started speaking English to his mum, who – luckily – is an English teacher. What is more, however, Matej now is working hard to get excellent results for his final school examinations. He is resolute to study medicine and has already applied for medical school in Italy and England. ‘I was so inspired by my work experience in England that I decided to study medicine. Hopefully, one day, I will be able to go back to England and work there as a doctor.’