"This was a challenging, but very valuable experience for me, which has made my life richer in so many ways. Before I went to Colombia, I was a shy, insecure arts student who had no idea what he was going to do with his life. Living and working abroad forced me to grow up quickly and learning Spanish and making new friends in a foreign country, greatly improved my confidence.
Learning a second language is such a worthwhile thing to do, both on a personal and a professional level. I also imagine that it's an area where we fall way behind graduates from other countries and so any programme that gives British students the chance to study or work abroad is clearly invaluable.
Going back to my profesional experience at the Politecnico, I quickly realised that teaching English wasn't what I wanted to do in the long term. I thus started taking photos of various locations and events at the Politecnico's various campuses. My photos would then be used for the Politecnico's newspaper and website. I found this very enjoyable and rewarding and realised that photography was definitely the way I wanted to go, career-wise.
I have since spent the last four years working as a Staff Photographer for Princess Cruises. While having a BA (Hons) in Photography was obviously important in getting the job, I think the fact that I'd already lived and worked abroad was equally important. At the interview they stressed how different living and working on a cruise ship is, in comparison to a 'normal' job and asked me if I thought I'd be able to cope with it, how I would deal with certain situations, etc. In answer to every such question, I refered to my experience in Colombia and that seemed to assure them that I was the type of mature and adaptable person that they needed.
After four years at sea, I've decided to take a break from the sailor's life and have a go at settling down. So of course the first thing I did on returning home to England, was book my flights to Colombia! I'll be heading back there in January with the intention initially of just brushing up on my Spanish and catching up with old friends, but eventually finding work and settling down in Colombia. With the experience and skills that I now have, I feel confident that I'll be able to do this and look forward to a bright future. As such, I'd like to put on record the debt of gratitude I owe to the British Council and everybody involved in the Language Assistants Programme, for making this all possible."