Everyone’s heard ‘The year abroad will be the best year of your life - make the most of it!’ But speaking as someone who’s quite introverted, and who also gets quite anxious when thrust into new situations, the dominant voice in my head was ‘Well, what if it isn’t? What do I do then?’ So immediately after arriving in France, stuttering and stammering to the accommodation lady, being labelled as the ‘nervous girl’ (I’m not being paranoid, she told two of my friends who checked in on the same day to look after me) didn’t exactly do wonders for my self-confidence.
How hard could it be to move to another English-speaking country? How much culture shock are you really likely to experience? Actually, quite a bit. The thing with doing a year abroad in Canada is that you expect it to be British with a few quirks and slightly American sounding accents. And then you arrive and the signs are in French and the people speak at you in something which sort of resembles French but also really doesn’t.
Phoebe is on her year abroad in Buenos Aires working for a non-profit organisation called BAIS Argentina, the first non-governmental organisation helping to facilitate the social integration of foreign students in the city. We asked her about her experience and how year abroaders going to Argentina can get involved...
Esther is 22 years old, and is studying Politics and International Relations with French at the University of Kent. She spent her year abroad studying in Lille, France, from September 2012 to June this year. Here are her experiences of the four stages of a year abroad.
Lying on the beach soaking up the Spanish sun with not a care in the world, but just as the sand starts to creep into your hair and you take a deep breath to inhale the sea-air, you remember that project you have to do for University. Suddenly the experience becomes nothing like you had envisaged when you chose your degree programme 3 years ago and were promised a fun-filled time abroad. The reality of an impending University deadline hits you and you’re forced to dump the beach towel, screw the lid back on the sun lotion and head inside to start the essay you thought would be a lot easier to churn out when the time came.
Lukas is 23 years old from Hamburg in Germany, and he's doing his Interpreting and Translating (French and Spanish) degree at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. He is currently spending the first semester of his year abroad in Brussels, and will be heading to Barcelona for his second. As a seasoned and thrifty traveller, here is his advice about making the most of budget airline Ryanair on your year abroad...
Kate is studying Linguistics and English Language Studies and is spending her year abroad in Barcelona, Spain. Here's her advice about surviving the first month!
That’s it. The paperwork’s been signed, your tickets are booked and you’ve even figured out where the best shops or bars are in your soon-to-be-new-home. You’re about to set off on your year abroad! Already, you anticipate the sights and smells of the city, or the open air of the countryside, and the exciting times to come exploring a new place with friends you haven’t even met yet.
Hannah is studying French and Italian at the University of Salford, and is spending her year abroad studying in Forlì, Italy, and teaching in a collège lycée in Brittany, France. Here is her advice for keeping busy and avoiding boredom on your year abroad...
It’s a great time to be a year abroad student. The sun has well and truly got his hat on, picnics in the park or at the beach become a daily occurrence, work/university becomes even less of a priority, and one glance at your Facebook or Twitter newsfeed confirms why you took a year abroad in the first place: all your third year friends back at home are panicking through the 17th draft of their dissertation or drowning in revision notes for their final exams, and you’re definitely, definitely not.