May 12, 2018, by Anjni

My Year Abroad – An Experience

So the academic year has officially come to a close for me on this side of the globe, and with it, I close the chapter of my wonderful year abroad – and all so soon; time has just flown by! I’ve had such an amazing, amazing experience, and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone and everyone! If you need convincing, or would like the opportunity to get a cliche uni photo on campus grounds (see above^),  or even if you’d just like hear a little bit about my reflection of the year, just keep reading!

When I first applied to go abroad, whilst I wanted it and thought the experience would be super-cool, I wasn’t too fussed, if I got it then I got it, but if not, no biggie – I love Nottingham to bits and would have been more than happy to continue second year on its beautiful, green campus! But I got it, and I’m so glad I did because in being away this past year, I’ve learnt and grown so much, far more than I had initially thought possible in the short space of ten months. (A little mushy I know, but bear with me here). Don’t get me wrong, initially I was scared, yes. In fact incredibly so; jetting off to spend the year in another country, not knowing a soul… I was pretty nervous embarking on such a journey. But it’s good to get out of your comfort zone sometimes, right? And boy, did I ever! It was one of the reasons that really drew me to applying, the fact that it’s a perfect opportunity to get out there and really challenge myself, something that I don’t do all that often. And whilst it was nerve-wracking, I reminded myself to remain open-minded so that I could take full advantage of this experience and everything that comes with it. I treated it like first year and made sure I made every effort to integrate and make friends (VERY difficult if you’re naturally –  a little –  shy like me), and I ended up surprising even myself. Your girl is – slowly – learning how to talk to people (vital in this day and age because they say books can’t keep you company forever, although I would disagree). I met people from all walks of life and from all across the globe. It was really interesting to learn about them and what their lifestyles are like in different countries (served to improve my geography and all). But also I learnt a little more about the lifestyle of the locals here in my host country; the vibrant cultures and traditions it holds. I see now that I didn’t know all that much about the place as I had once thought I had, and I was actually ignorant to a LOT of aspects about life here in South East Asia, and just their life in general. But coming here and immersing myself into both student and local life has really given me a greater sense of awareness and has bettered my cross-cultural skills loads!

Speaking of, skills wise you’ll gain a BUNCH! Adaptation, organisation, communication, decision making, managing and budgeting money; the list goes on! It’s because of these skills that studying abroad is so highly regarded and makes for a great addition to your CV! You may think that the skills you pick up won’t be much different to what you’d learn if you stuck around uni in the UK, but finding yourself in a completely different country, a country with differing norms and customs; finding your feet and navigating the landscape on your own can be tough. And going abroad? That’s displacement on a whole other level! And thus, you can see just why potential employers may be enticed in seeing such experiences on incoming applications. It’s all about those transferable skills these days – and they want a LOT of them! – so if you’re looking to spice up your CV, then you should give it a go!

More so though, it’s how the experience can help you grow as a person beyond just the accumulation of a couple skills here and there. This is going to sound silly, incredible cliche, and cheesy to the MAXXX, but the experience really does go on to fundamentally change you. It changes the way you think and interact with people and, more often than not, you’ll realise you become more self-aware of your surrounding situations and the relationships of the people around you. I can’t explain it. But you end up seeing the world and your whole studying experience through another lens because it puts so many things into perspective. For example, the simple act of conversation, seeing familiar faces everyday, having easy access to your much loved home comforts; these are all things that we never really give a second thought to when we’re studying at home in the UK, so e never really consider the challenges that exist, that we would face, without them. In some senses, the experience gives you but a fraction of the taste of how it must feel for incoming students who study their whole degree away from their home country. Of course, a year on exchange is no where near  as difficult (it spans over such a short period that it pales in comparison), but it acts as a small indication. It really opens your eyes to all the little things that we so often take for granted.

Gosh, what do I sound like? So I’m gonna stop there before things get too mushy and too philosophical. But there you have it: just a few of my thoughts on this whole experience. It’s been fab, and if you’re  feeling 50/50 about it, just go for it – you may surprise yourself, I know I definitely did. And if you’ve had similar experiences abroad, comment and let us know! I’m sure other students here would love to hear about your stories as much as I would!

Posted in Anjni