Eiffel Tower in Paris

December 8, 2020, by ulyrh1

Year Abroad: Choosing Where to Go and What to Do

By Rowena Harris, Student Blogger

For modern languages students like myself, a year abroad in your third year of study is compulsory. But did you know that the majority of Nottingham students have the opportunity to study abroad as well? You can find out more about the opportunities in your school, on the Study Abroad website.

Everyone studying modern languages seems to come back from their year abroad gushing about how incredible and life-changing their experience was. But how do you know you are picking the right thing to do? The first step is deciding how you want to spend the year. If you do more than one language, you will split your time between countries, so you don’t have to stick to just one thing.

What are your options?

  • Studying

The University has partner universities in countless countries across the world, where you can take courses to improve your understanding of the language, while also immersing yourself in the local culture: meeting new people, exploring cities, and getting a feel for life in your country. You can enjoy the long university holidays and meet loads of people your age.

  • Teaching

The British Council offers paid placements to UK students to teach English abroad as a foreign language in schools (primary, secondary, or even adult classes). You will build loads of confidence in your target language while also gaining valuable skills such as leadership, organisation, and problem-solving. With 12-18 hours of work a week, you will have bags of time to explore the country and see the sights!

  • Working

You could also choose to spend your year abroad working. By finding a work placement or internship, you will gain valuable experience and possibly make contacts that set you up for a future career. With placements available in a wide range of fields – from translation and banking to marketing and hospitality – you can truly immerse yourself in the language and culture. And if that all sounds too daunting, you could combine working and studying to get the best of both worlds!

Choosing where to go

Even after you have decided which of these three routes to take, how do you decide where to go? This decision is made a bit easier for you as you won’t always get your first choice. For example, when applying for a British Council assistantship placement, although you can select preferences for certain regions, you could be placed anywhere. So, don’t set your heart on that one beautiful coastal town in southern France!

However, if looking to study or find a work placement, you have a bit more freedom. When trying to narrow it down, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What courses offered at partner universities interest me?
  • What work placements are available?
  • Could I get professional experience that would prepare me for a future career?
  • Do I want to be around other international students? (You’ll find more people your age in larger towns and university cities.)
  • Am I particularly drawn to the culture or landscapes of a certain region?
  • Do I need to be careful about cost of living?
  • Do I need to be near a hospital or have access to mental health support? (Often provided through a university.)

While this seems like a lot, doing thorough research will ensure you enjoy yourself and get the most out of your year. Check out other students’ year abroad experiences to help you decide.

I admit, it’s daunting: the prospect of diving headfirst into a new culture, having to remember those verb conjugations that you’ve been practising since Year 7 and use them in real life. But it’s equally a fantastic opportunity to perfect your language skills and gain valuable new experiences. And you will almost certainly have an amazing time.

You can also read about other study abroad experiences if you are not a language student on pages 12 to 15 of the Careers Handbook.

If you want to chat to an adviser about how you can articulate your experiences on application forms or at interviews, please book an appointment.

Posted in Careers AdviceStudent BloggersWork experience