"My mentor, an English teacher at the school, organised my accommodation which was a rented room in an upmarket part of Hamburg. I supported my mentor during his classes, predominantly by reading extracts to the class. I also organised some voluntary marketing work experience to further my language skills and to gain some business experience.
Living abroad on my own was a huge personal challenge and one which I dreaded – it doesn’t compare to living away at university. I was surprised at how quickly I adapted and how I relished the independence and treating Hamburg as my home.
I was terrified about speaking German day in day out but it did become normal and Germans are so friendly and welcoming – most try and speak to you in English!
Arguably the best thing to come out of my year abroad was meeting my best friend (and bridesmaid this year!). We were both English Language Assistants and lived near each other in Hamburg. We both still share stories of our time in Hamburg and have even returned for short breaks, revisiting old haunts!
I believe that I matured during my year abroad. I came back for my final year ready to embark on a career. I graduated in 2004 and joined Holidaybreak plc as an Executive Assistant to the Group Chief Executive. A business degree was required and no language skills were necessary. I do believe that my year abroad was a ‘selling point’ and certainly provided an opportunity to evidence my key attributes – strong communication skills; organisational skills etc. I still work for Holidaybreak in a different capacity, as Corporate Projects Manager, and my language skills are occasionally tested as we have German businesses within our Group – including in Hamburg!"