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Spend a Year Abroad? Absolutely!

22 Feb Academic
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You’ve finished school, you’ve made it to University, you have had your fun at freshers… now it’s time to think about enhancing your CV.

University alone isn’t enough anymore to attract employers. What if I told you there is a way to enhance your skills, make new friends and make memories that will last forever.

Taking advantage of a study or placement year abroad will allow you to experience exciting new cultures around the world. You will taste different food and drinks, you will meet new people, discover what they value and learn how to integrate with people from different cultures, backgrounds and upbringings. It can also be a great opportunity to discover new interests such as skiing, hiking or drinking wine!

Does it have to be related to my degree?

Your experience abroad doesn’t have to be directly linked to your degree or your potential career path, for example I study Business with French and I took my placement year in France as a teaching assistant, despite having no particular objective to become a teacher. No matter what your experience is you will gain countless transferable skills which will relate to any career that you desire such as communication skills, teamwork and leadership. Working or studying abroad will give you a different perspective on life and the opportunities available. Once you experience another culture and a different way of living you will be more understanding and empathetic of people from different backgrounds, becoming a better communicator and a more self-assured and confident individual.

Won’t it be expensive?

If it’s money you’re worried about, there are various schemes available to help you out. I took part in the British Council scheme earning a salary as an English Language Assistant while also having access to an Erasmus grant. I even saved enough money at the end of the year to buy my first car when I got home the following summer!

Can you travel around whilst you’re on placement?

If you choose to go to a non-English speaking country, you will have the invaluable opportunity of learning more vocabulary and idioms in your first month than you have during the last two years of your degree. Visiting other places is much easier and quicker than you would expect as transport links run smoothly. You will find that most of your free time will be spent travelling and exploring other regions and countries, for example I visited many towns and cities across boarders such as Geneva, Paris, Lisbon and Malaga while being placed in a small town called Albertville in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of France.

It’s all about the lie experience!

You will be thrown out of your comfort zone giving you the opportunity to unlock your full potential. You will demonstrate your independence through living by yourself, your organisation skills through rearranging your routine, and your adaptability by immersing yourself in a new culture. So once you come back home, travelling for an hour to work will seem like nothing at all.

If you have the opportunity to work, study or live abroad during your third year at University take it! Don’t be afraid to move away from home; the best and more often worst part of a year abroad is that it’s only for a year! You need to prove to employers how you have challenged yourself and this is one of the most adventurous ways to do so.

Travelling may become one of your greatest passions in life outside of your career or, at the very least it will be a huge learning curve where you’ve gained the most valuable skills for improving your home life, employability and cultural awareness. Either way I can guarantee it will be an experience that you will never forget.

Thanks to Kelly Wilson, Final Year Student at Ulster University.