"I decided I wanted to split my year 50:50 to ensure that I spent an equal amount of time on my languages. I also wanted to experience both studying and working abroad to ensure an all-round experience. I was an Erasmus student at Parma University for the first half of the year and then worked in a tourism agency as both a sales rep and a receptionist at one of their hotels. I have benefitted from both experiences in more ways than can be written down in 500 words but I will try and summarise! I think the most important thing that came out of my Erasmus experience was having the opportunity to meet a range of different people from a range of different backgrounds who all have one thing in common - to learn other languages and about other cultures. The Erasmus scene is a dynamic and exciting scene and it was during this time that I formed a network of international friendships and contacts, which I will have for life.
My experience in France was invaluable in a professional capacity because not only did I make new friends and contacts and improve my language skills but I also had the opportunity to work in one of France's top holiday companies, which was the deciding factor in a job interview after university for a ski company that dealt with a large French client base.
Since university I was lucky enough to do an internship at the European Commission. A large part the application process was looking at your enthusiasm for other cultures and experience working in an international culture and I drew heavily on my year abroad experience to demonstrate this.
I have recently joined the civil service and although my first role is inward-facing, my long-term aim is to have an international/european dimension to my job and my year abroad has given me a solid foundation on which to build upon in the future."