From Jean-Albert Grégoire vocational high school to Malta publié le 27/06/2023  - mis à jour le 29/06/2023

Five students and two teachers from Jean-Albert Gregoire Vocational School on an Erasmus + Programme in Malta.

Sunglasses, hats, sunscreen, adaptors… Cassandra, Jaydon, Kenzo, Noah and Théo went through the check list one last time before leaving Soyaux this Friday morning. Next stage of the trip : Bordeaux Mérignac airport to take a flight to Luqa, Malta’s airport. At first glance, you might have thought the group of friends was heading for a holiday in the sunny archipelago, but if you had opened their luggage, you would have found safety boots, gloves, and overalls : the required PPEs to start a 3-week work placement in a garage or a firewood company the next Monday.

Becoming European citizens

Opening up to Europe and the world is one of the axes of our school’s strategic plan (JAG-2030) for the coming years. One of the goals is to make the mobility programmes more accessible, helping the largest number of students to spend time abroad, thereby contributing to a better integration into the working world. As well as getting professional skills and discovering more varied points of reference, we also expect an improvement in their linguistic skills. This immersion in another European country, the discovery of other customs and habits and the interactions within the workplace, with the host family and during leisure activities aim to strengthen the idea of European citizenship.
Following in the footsteps of Bastien, a student preparing an advanced technician certificate (BTS) who completed a nine-week internship in a logistics company in Barcelona in 2022, the students from 1ère Bac Pro were offered the opportunity to do a work placement abroad. Erasmus+ grants from the GIP-CFIP and the support of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region helped finance this placement. Five of them, from 3 different professional fields, went through the various phases of the selection. The team in charge of the mobility contacted placement agencies and Malta appeared to be the most suitable destination. For most of the group, it was the first time on a plane, the first time abroad and the first time far from home for such a long time. Nevertheless, they remained confident and enthusiastic, sometimes even comforting their parents, and they prepared their trip (online) as they got details about the location of their companies or their host families.

First steps, first impressions

They travelled with a mechanic teacher who stayed in Malta for their first week. The latter took English lessons and strolled around while they were discovering their new environment, adapting to a different culture.
After a short struggle to understand how the bus routes worked on the island and find the correct stop, the group spent their first weekend discovering Valletta and the seaside.
After their first day at work, most of them had enjoyed it and reported that their colleagues and managers were welcoming, friendly, with a good sense of humour… and had an unfamiliar accent.
They had also discovered that the following Wednesday was a bank holiday (Sette Giugno) commemorating the death of six Maltese people during riots against the British administration in 1919. They certainly had plans to make the most of this day off !

They got used to send pictures of the places they had visited as well as of their companies. Kenzo was proud when his manager asked him to change the oil on a luxury car (Peugeot 406 Pininfarina V6). Although Théo’s garage is specialized in French brands, he noticed some organisational differences with the French garages he knows. They appreciated being active and assigned tasks. The language barrier did not stop them from getting their hands dirty !
Another adult, teaching lorry driving, was present for their last work placement week. As well as improving her English in a language school, she visited them in the companies.

Pioneers !

We hope our five pioneers will come back with unforgettable memories and share their experiences with future mobility candidates. We expect the demand for mobility programmes, for students and for adults will continue to grow in the coming years and hope that many more will benefit from this opportunity.