"My year abroad was spent in Perpignan, a south westerly part of France where the border of Spain is a short drive away, making trips to Rosas a lazy Sunday event, Barcelona when the occasion was fit, and then the mountains in the winter. I was appointed as an English teacher’s assistant for a school year, across two schools in the city, so I spent a lot of time creating lesson plans that would capture the students’ imagination as well as hold their attention. I learnt a lot from this teaching experience; as well as acquiring a new-found respect for teachers, I also appreciated the students who made an effort and so made my experience worthwhile.
When I first began my degree, it was made totally clear that the level of knowledge and skill expected from me was a massive leap from what I had been used to at college; so much so, in fact, I nearly left after the first year afraid that I would never match up to the expectations. Despite the huge efforts employed, my spoken French was my weakest point, stealing my confidence to ever succeed. It was thanks to my year abroad that I can now and still speak and understand French quite fluently. The year in Perpignan not only gave me the opportunity to completely immerse myself in the language and culture of a country which I ended up falling in love with, it was also an insight to another way of life outside of England. In the end, I passed my degree with a First.
As soon as I sat my last exam in the summer of 2008, I packed up my flat in Leeds to leave England, and began my job search on the Cote d’Azur. It wasn’t easy for an inexperienced foreigner to clinch her job deal, especially as the recession gripped globally, but the year abroad had made me fearless, unrelenting and determined. Finally, I was hired by a Luxury Yacht Management Company in Monaco to work as a charter broker’s assistant and I haven’t looked back since!
This introduction to the yachting industry has seen me move from the office, to the actual yachts, being head-hunted for my French speaking skills allowing me to liaise with suppliers, owners, crew and guests when others can’t. This industry has taken me from France to Italy to Croatia to Greece to Dubai to Abu Dhabi to the Caribbean and back again, all expenses paid whilst being paid. I am so thankful for the opportunity which was given to me by the University of Leeds, an opportunity which changed me for the better allowing me to be more flexible, accepting and broadminded. An opportunity which has lead me to where I am now (Antigua), in a job which I love working with a great international crew. Here, the scenery changes every day, and life is a little less serious then I was previously convinced it had to be."