August 17, 2018, by Carla Froggatt
Five Skills You’ll Develop By Studying Abroad to Boost Your Career
Studying or working abroad can make you more employable and give you a competitive advantage when entering the globalised workplace. You will develop increased confidence as you settle into a new culture and make friends, while facing the challenges of studying within a new academic setting and potentially in another language.
Here’s five ways Nottingham students have boosted their employability while studying overseas:
1. Connect with new cultures
I applied to McGill University in Montreal, Canada, because I was fascinated by its bilingual nature and vibrant student life.
I lived in a house with 30 exchange students, each from a different city. It was an intense situation with people from varied cultural backgrounds, meaning we were often unique in our behaviour and way of living. I embraced this variety. For example, we organised ‘potlucks’ where everyone would cook a dish from their native country to share and eat together.
At Christmas, we each chose a tradition we missed from home to create our own holiday, merging cultural customs.
I loved mixing with people from all cultures and I do believe this aspect made my semester abroad so much more valuable. It was an unforgettable experience.
Pia Shafer,BA Culture, Film and Media
2. Plan your time like a pro
At university I initially left my planning and organisation to the last minute. Whether it was coursework or revision, I was always still doing it the day it was due. I was still completing tasks, but I often felt unprepared and hurried.
My application for study abroad was the first step in altering this pattern. I completed my personal statement early for my personal tutor to read and applying for visas required laborious proof-reading or I would risk delaying my application.
While away, the prospect of travelling on the weekend was one of my biggest motivators for completing an assignment early, and they were better quality when I didn’t feel rushed. I started to procrastinate less and set realistic daily goals.
These improved skills benefited me greatly in my final year, when I managed to balance studies, volunteering, and part-time work – and I graduated with a First!
Sythey Russell,BSc Psychology
3. Build your resilience
I chose to go to ITESM in Mexico City in my third year because of the exciting culture and history Mexico offers – and because I wanted to boost my Spanish. Although it was challenging to adapt initially, the university community was really welcoming and made it easier to settle into living in a new city.
Initially, day-to-day tasks, such as figuring out which bus to take was daunting, but by the end of the year it was a lot easier to ‘just go for it’. I had to give presentations in Spanish, which was difficult at first – under pressure I would always mix up English and Spanish. Gaining confidence took help from new friends, both international and native. Study Abroad will make you a more confident, creative and independent person as you work in an unfamiliar environment and with people from a different culture.
Lawrence Cate, BSc Computer Science
4. Communicate with confidence
I decided on Adelaide, Australia for my exchange. At first I thought communicating would be easy, given that both Australia and the UK share English as their official language. However, being a northern girl from the UK, it was surprising how many people struggled to understand me! I have been asked whether I’m Scottish or Irish because my accent is not stereotypically English.
To improve my communication skills, here’s what I did. I learned a lot about Australian slang and culture through my job and at university, which taught me that these Aussies are usually up for a laugh and like to make light of all situations. So, one tactic I used was purposely trying to pronounce my words in the Queen’s English. However, I couldn’t keep this up for very long, but it broke the ice between me and new people I met!
Amber Haley,BSc Psychology
5. Use your initiative
During my time at Strasbourg University I decided to make the most of it by taking as many opportunities to develop my language skills as possible.
I chose to live with French housemates, participated in extracurricular activities, found a tandem language partner and chose modules that specifically focused on the French language and grammar. Not only did my French improve quickly, but my confidence developed too.
As well as enhancing my time abroad, I have been able to use this experience in applications and interviews as an example of how I take the initiative by seeking out opportunities that will challenge me to learn and develop my skill set.
Lorna Airey, BA French Studies
Did you know? The Nottingham Advantage Award run two modules for study abroad participants to help you reflect on your time away. Unsure how to sell your new skills on your CV? This is a must.