"I can honestly say, hand on heart; it was the best experience of my university life, for many reasons.
The main purpose of my year abroad, being a language student, was to consolidate my ability to speak, read and understand my two chosen languages. What I gained from the year was far more than that. I gained an insight into the variation in cultures, a chance to meet new people and get to know better the people I already know. I remember starting my 4th and final year of my course with a completely different outlook to my first two years. I had developed a greater level of confidence than I could have imagined; swapping stories of overseas adventures with people I’d hardly spoken to before! It gave me a great sense of community, of being part of something really good and belonging.
Attending university in the chosen countries was the perfect way to learn more about the countries and cultures and also to meet new people. I was able to choose modules relevant to my course and also my own interests. I believe that my increased understanding of the cultures and countries helped dramatically improve my language skills.
Learning to live overseas was an exciting challenge which taught me how to depend on others and also offer help where its need. Now, whenever I meet people from overseas, I’m really keen to offer help, be it giving directions or helping out with translations.
I had my eyes and my mind opened to the possibilities of living abroad and entering foreign markets. I was excited by the prospect that although the world seems like a big place, it is very accessible. I had the chance to understand how processes and procedures work in other countries and differ from those in the UK, principally in the universities. It has broadened my mind, increased my understanding and acceptance of cultural and also individual differences.
I was very lucky to have this opportunity as I believe it enhanced my personality as well as my language skills. I emerged from it as a more confident and open-minded person.
When I left university in 2003, I started working for a construction company as a planner. When an opportunity came up in 2009 for a position overseas, I didn’t hesitate. I had built up some experience as a planner and now had the opportunity to use my language degree.
I now live and work in Brazil and speak fluent Portuguese. I’ve been here for almost two years and have also spent time living and working in Chile. I’m certain that making a decision to work overseas would have been far more difficult had I not had the opportunity to live outside the UK beforehand.
I sincerely hope that the funding for this third year abroad opportunity does not stop and that many more students have the chance for this fantastic experience.
Flights: £500. Accommodation: £2000. Tuition fees: £1500. Value of the third year abroad: Priceless."