"I spent my year abroad teaching English at the EOI Murcia in Southern Spain, a government funded language school for adult learners, as part of the British Council Language Assistant Programme. For 9 months, I spent 12 hours per week giving speaking and listening classes to the most enthusiastic groups of students who were keen to learn and put so much effort into the classes – it was such a rewarding experience. I also got involved in open days and cultural events the school hosted, taught private lessons and did some translation work – all of which helped me to build up a great network of Spanish friends and earn sufficient money to travel throughout Spain. On top of that I lived with four spanish students which helped me to get fluent in Spanish and I had a great group of British friends through the British Council programme with whom I travelled throughout Spain on weekends and Bank Holidays.
My year abroad was definitely the most formative year of my life. I got so much confidence from landing in Spain with nothing but a suitcase full of belongings and finding a place to call home, learning to teach, building up a network of friends and a fantastic life that 9 months later I really didn’t want to leave to go back to uni in England! I also became fluent in Spanish, a skill that 10 years on I’ve kept up and still use frequently – it’s helped me get jobs, facilitated travel around South and Central America and most importantly meant I could keep in touch with the wonderful people I met during that fantastic year I spent in Murcia.
When I graduated from University, I accepted a place on the graduate scheme at Gfk, one of the world’s biggest Market Research companies. I worked for Jaguar Land Rover on their Customer Satisfaction Programme and managed the survey for the Spanish market, frequently translating customer comments and conversing with my client in Spanish. After 2 years at Gfk I moved to Molson Coors where I did a number of roles, finally Brand Manager on Carling lager – I would use my Spanish frequently to converse with packaging suppliers based in Barcelona and for export activities. 6 weeks ago I joined Boots UK and haven’t yet used my Spanish but am sure opportunities will come up – perhaps in International Marketing in the future.
I wouldn’t hesitate to advocate the role of the year abroad – not only in making students fluent in a second language, but for the wealth of benefits it brings in so many areas. Whatever I’m faced with in life nowadays, it never seems as difficult as the prospect of arriving in Spain with nothing but a suitcase and having to find somewhere to live and build a life for myself. It really was one of the most enjoyable, enriching and confidence building experiences of my life."