"During the academic year 2002-3, I spent nine months working as a British Council Language Assistant and embracing the cultural state of Bavaria, Germany, based within the locality Franconia in the town of Erlangen, twinned with Stoke-on-Trent. I was placed as a English Language Assistant in a local business and economics school called a Wirtschaftschule. This school taught a range of vocational subjects such as accounting, business studies and economics with the hope of all pupils finding work within the business/commerce sectors of Germany.
The placement year gave me the confidence to become the person who I am today. I enrolled at a local college studying German as a foreign language to boost my grammar and additionally worked as a waiter and bar-tender in a Mexican themed bar, gaining customer service skills and the inner confidence to use my language spontaneously and to 'take the lead' in a situation and utilise this to my advantage.
I lost over 3 stone in weight, by joining a local gym and playing badminton with fellow staff members and in the summer, beach volleyball on a very coarse non-beach sand pit! I felt integrated, an appreciated member of a team and for the first time, felt I had direction and purpose in life and that my degree was purposeful and not an excuse to sit around drinking and doing little else.
The year abroad came quickly to an end and I decided to stay over the summer and continue working in Erlangen to save money and continue my journey! I travelled extensively around Germany, Austria and Europe as a whole with my discounted 50% off railcard!
The scheme to allow pupils to move abroad gave me the direction to complete a PGCE in German and French during 2004/2005 and I became employed in March 2005 in my first teaching position, where I now teach languages through to 'A' Level. The year abroad has given me financial, personal and career security, as well as some phenomenal memories and friends who I meet yearly in Erlangen, where I'm still recognised as the "English Boy"."