Monika Marija Messinga (Latvia/Advertising and media) and James Beckley (Spain/Tourism)

New Entrepreneur (NE)
Name & surname: Monika Marija Messinga
Country: Latvia
Age: 25 years
Sector of activity: Advertising, promotion, printing, media and related products and services
Have you already started your business? No
What is your future business? A digital communication and advertising agency

Host Entrepreneur (HE)
Name & surname: James Beckley
Country: Spain
Sector of activity: Hotel, restaurant, tourism, travel services and wellness
Experience in running a business: 30 years
Name of business/website: Pearly Grey Ocean Club / www.pearlygrey.com
What is your business? Pearly Grey is a hotel resort with self-catering apartments located in Callao Salvaje along the stunning South coast of Tenerife.

Period of exchange: 18.09.2020 – 17.03.2021
Duration of exchange: 6 months

What inspired Monika to chase her dream as a professional photographer in the digital communication and advertising sector?

Hello, world. My name is Monika Marija and I’m 25 years old and my home is in Riga, Latvia. I’m a Social media manager and a photographer. I started to work with social media a long time ago but learned it professionally while studying at university. I have been photographing for more than 8 years. It is my favourite hobby, which has now turned into a job. I think I can perfectly combine both of my passions since I use my photos on social media. My dream is to work in a job in which I am self-determined. In which I choose when, where and how much to work. I like to feel free. I like not being tied to the office, but working remotely and planning my own time. I’m doing this kind of work right now and I really like it, but new experiences are needed to develop myself. That is why I wanted to get involved in the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs program.

It seemed like a great opportunity to develop myself in a completely different environment, to see what is happening elsewhere, to get to know people and gain more knowledge so that I can be more successful in my field back home. It seemed unreal to me to move to another country for 6 months. I had never been away from home for more than 2 weeks and generally, I called myself a home person. I completely got out of my comfort zone to go on this experience. I had never heard of this Erasmus program before and none of my friends took part in it. I found out more about it online and decided to apply. I already knew that if I choose this program, I would only go to a place I already knew a little bit. So I chose Tenerife because I had already travelled to Tenerife on holiday and my father lives on this island. Therefore, I did not have a hard time deciding in favour of Tenerife. I was approached by my mentor James, and I couldn’t be happier because his offer to work for his company was perfectly tailored for me – working with social media and photography, and the working hours were great. Of course, before leaving I was quite nervous. I didn’t know how it would turn out. How James would be, because we had never met before, we just talked in a zoom call. The whole preparation process was very stressful, but I was delighted by the thought of warmth and new experiences.

So I arrived in Tenerife in September and I was greeted by a really nice team. My mentor is a very inspiring person and the whole team was very positive. In addition, it was a big surprise for me that there was another Latvian in our work team. My workplace was Pearly Grey hotel. It’s in the southern part of Tenerife, where the sun does not leave for a day and the ocean is so blue that you can’t stop looking at it. The hotel is located right by the ocean, on the edge of a cliff. My mentor runs this great hotel by the ocean and I am inspired to be here. When I first entered the hotel I couldn’t believe it will be my workplace for the next 6 months.

The first week at work was spent getting to know the surroundings, the people and the work I had to do daily. My mentor helped me to deal with everything and always encouraged me. I quickly learned all the necessary things. My daily work was with the hotel’s social media, and I also took quite a lot of photos. I often had to take pictures of the hotel, the rooms, customers and various events. With the team, we often recorded videos, which I later used for publishing. I really enjoyed the rhythm of my work. My mentor helped me with various suggestions that I should know If I work in this field. We decided that I would also need my own website, which we have just completed and already published. I participated in team meetings and together we thought about how to better advertise and promote the hotel. We also discussed various other issues. My mentor James is a person who is very motivating. He fascinated me with his life story. I am very inspired to talk to him because it always seems to be a good motivation for me to start doing more and better. Over time, my mentor introduced me to other people outside the hotel, so I had new job opportunities and new contacts that I definitely will use in the future. James and I also discussed my possibility of staying on the island, but I am currently thinking of going home after the program ends because I want to spend the summer at home. I still have the opportunity to return next winter.

My life in Tenerife was definitely very exciting and beautiful. Because this is a paradise island. I saw so much. Of course, the fact that I was here during the Covid-19 pandemic probably didn’t help me, because a lot is forbidden and there are many restrictions. And maybe I would have had more opportunities to express myself without Covid-19, but I really enjoyed living here. Tenerife is now my second home.

I have achieved my goals. I have not only gained really great experience, but also new friends, new knowledge, new contacts. My mentor is very happy with my work and I am very happy about it. I have more motivation. I have gained new knowledge by working with social media. I have learned Spanish at a basic level. I have definitely gained a lot. My greatest wish is to continue to create and succeed. While in Tenerife, I have also developed a small circle of clients who want to create photo sessions, as well as possible job opportunities, which is a great pleasure for me. Right now, though, I have a lot to think about. I will definitely stay in touch with my mentor because we have a very good relationship and I will definitely visit him and my team if I come back to Tenerife. But who knows, it’s possible that I will return here for an even longer period of time. My next steps when returning home will be to continue what I have started, to continue trying to achieve my dreams, to continue to work in this area and gain more customers who would like to cooperate.

I would definitely recommend this program to anyone who feels that they are a little stuck in time because this is a great opportunity to develop themselves, gain new knowledge, make new friends, as well as get to know a new country, another part of the world. This is an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and help yourself find yourself. It will help you achieve your dreams. May you succeed!