As someone studying a Joint Honours English Literature and Spanish degree, I thought I’d provide my advice which I feel applies to many other second year students when considering going abroad for a year.
I made the decision to do a year abroad on my A Level results day which, at the time, I didn’t take into much consideration. Nevertheless, now I have just one year until I will be venturing over to Spain to do my year abroad and there are so many things which I am thinking about and considering in order to prepare for my journey ahead.
The first thing that is really important to consider is the language barrier you may face when you move abroad. I am lucky in the sense that I have been studying Spanish for numerous years, so my year abroad will be a great opportunity to develop my Spanish. Nevertheless, many people often decide to move abroad with no awareness of the language, culture or society that they are moving to. This can be very daunting and scary, and you should make sure that you can understand at least some of the basics of the language and cultural norms beforehand.
Another essential thing to consider is the decision to study or carry out a work placement. There are so many benefits to each of these options but first, let’s discuss the option of studying.
Studying abroad is a great way of meeting other young people who also share similar interests to you. It is comforting because you know you can easily find other young people to live with and socialise with. Moreover, the work won’t be too difficult as it is a continuation of what you have already been doing previously at university. Nevertheless, this can also be really challenging if you are not studying the language spoken in the country that you’re living in. For me, a huge benefit of studying abroad would be improving my language skills so if this isn’t something you want to do, then maybe you should consider some of your other options.
Another option for the year abroad is to do a work placement. You may feel that this is a more suited option for you but there are also lots of difficulties with this. It is really important that you consider a work placement that you know you will enjoy. Moreover, it is important that you accept the fact that it will be harder to meet new people and socialise as you will be working at a 9-5 job, usually with people more experienced and older than you. Furthermore, this requires more planning; you need a good CV, interview skills and an ability to apply to lots of different jobs prior to your move. Moreover, it may be harder to find accommodation and people to live with as you won’t necessarily be in a highly student populated area. Nevertheless, this can look amazing to employers on your CV and it can give you the opportunity to experience a job which you may want to pursue after you finish your degree.
Another essential thing to consider is graduation. Doing a year abroad adds another year to your degree which means that you need to think about the fact that you will be graduating later and possibly later than all of the friends you have already established at uni. Whilst I don’t think that this is a factor that should prevent you from doing the year abroad, it is a factor to consider if you are still very on the fence about the whole concept of a year abroad.
Family and social life is also a big factor to consider when doing a year abroad. If you are already someone that struggles with being away from home when at university then doing a year abroad might not be the best option for you. Being abroad and not knowing anyone, for some people, can be really isolating and scary. On the other hand, you may be someone who deals with being away from home really well. Lots of students travel from various parts of the country to Leeds and being in another country might not feel that different. Also, it can be really exciting to live with and meet new people who have experienced a completely different culture and lifestyle to you all of their lives.
Hopefully, this article has helped you in your decision to do a year abroad if it’s something you are considering as part of your degree. I am sure it will be an amazing opportunity for me and those who decide to live abroad but it is important that you consider all of the options available to you before you make the decision.