"I gained a level of linguistic mastery that a degree in Modern Languages could not have provided without an immersion period. Furthermore, I was offered insight in to educational structures and strategies new to me, the opportunity for professional experience at an early stage and an international network of friends and colleagues who remain an important part of my life today. I wrote an undergraduate dissertation researched in Buenos Aires that greatly aided my (successful) application for a competitive internship on my return to the UK, which I completed immediately after graduation.
Currently, I am a doctoral researcher in Latin American Studies in London. This year, I am on a fellowship at Harvard, and I feel certain that in-depth regional knowledge, based on personal experience in Latin America, greatly enhanced both my written application and ability to answer questions at interview (both for this and several other opportunities); the knock-on effect of that first international opportunity has been access to others, and I will return to the UK with strong global connections as a result.
Moreover, as a direct consequence of living and working in other geographic areas, I feel confident competing on an international level. It is valuable to point out that, whereas students in the UK still regard a year abroad as exceptional, those I met from other countries approached the experience as the norm. For them, the question was where to go, not whether to go. On a national level, then, we should be encouraging and providing the infrastructure for undergraduates to embark on an experience that will likely increase their skills (language and other), confidence, knowledge, international networks, cultural sensitivity and professionalism."