A Year Abroad at University: Why I didn’t do one and why you should.

I’ve not posted in a while; going back to two jobs has taken a bit of getting used to and I really haven’t had much time to do anything but work, eat and sleep. But holiday blues and going back into the office has got me all ‘green eyed monster’. I help to coordinate internships abroad and presently, next years cohort are beginning their placements all around the world. When I was at University it didn’t even enter my head to undertake a sandwich year; partly because my course didn’t allow me to work abroad and partly because it wasn’t really publicised to us as an option. Most students who undertake a year abroad are language students, and this does tend to help as often you’re going to a country that doesn’t speak English as a first language, however there are students all around the country who decide to challenge themselves each year from a number of disiplines.

I think there is always a worry about undertaking a year abroad. It’s daunting, it’s adult and it’s adding another year onto your degree. Students are often scared they’ll arrive back for their last year at university having missed all of their friends who graduated the year before, and ultimately that jaw dropping student loan is going to be significantly bigger. However I honestly believe these are a small price to pay for an unforgettable experience – to say I’m jealous is an understatment.

As well as the idea of a year abroad being daunting, there are a huge number of challenges students face. The stress of applying for placements, the huge amount of paperwork that needs to be completed, ammodation that needs to be found and putting yourself; often alone, into a completely new culture. I do not for one minute think a year abroad is an easy option or a holiday. 

However, as I keep telling every single student who worries about their time abroad, in the end it is so so worth every hardship you face. Not only do your language skills improve significantly, so does your confidence with that language. You become familiar with a new culture and even more importantly you will find it easier to adapt to new cultures from now on. You grow up, find your own feet, sort out your own problems and become independent. You get to explore a new and beautiful country and let’s face it, your Instagram is going to make everyone stuck in the UK incredibly envious. 

The benefits that a year abroad can give you is best be seen, in my opinion, within a young woman named Virginia Stuart-Taylor; creator of the immensely successful travel blog ‘The Well-Travelled Postcard’ and a fellow Exeter alumnae. The way Virginia writes about her time abroad is inspiring and it really made me quite regretful that I didn’t get to do one. 

Quite honestly I think if you have the chance to do a year abroad take it and run with it. Your employability, life skills and confidence will soar – quite honestly why wouldn’t you? 

I would love to hear about your own experiences if you undertook a year abroad – how has it benefitted your life? 

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2 thoughts on “A Year Abroad at University: Why I didn’t do one and why you should.

  1. I spent my year abroad in Colmar, France, teaching English… and enjoyed it so much I’m moving back out to France to teach English in a university in Lyon post-graduation! There is an element of fear (mostly because everything, at first, is the unknown) surrounding the year abroad – especially for non-languages students who are a little warier about doing one, but ultimately it’s a fantastic opportunity to properly experience another culture and way of life. I just hope Brexit doesn’t put future students off!

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    1. It’s so lovely to hear from someone who has been there and completed a year abroad! It’s amazing that the experience has made you want to move out to France! You are so right and it’s amazing to see so many students undertaking this great challenge! I really do hope Brexit won’t have an affect on Erasmus and the funding that goes with it in the years to come! It would be a real shame if students missed out on such unique opportunities!

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