"I initially worked at a telecommunications company and subsequently worked in a tourist agency. The experience was invaluable and being able to spend a whole year there meant that I was able to make local friends and leave being able to say with complete certainty that I was fluent. My language improved and, more importantly, I discovered precisely what I liked about the Hispanic culture, which enabled me to tailor my fourth year at university. I developed a love for Neruda poetry, having seen the landscapes that inspired him. My year abroad project took inspiration from the socio-linguistic differences I began to perceive as my language and aural skills developed.
My final university year was highly demanding and I feel I was able to tackle it head-on due to my high level of comprehension in Spanish, which allowed me to get beyond just understand a novel and actually addressing the key themes it addressed. Far beyond the academic skills the year provided, I also felt privileged to have experienced such a different culture and consider a bigger picture after my degree. It made me more aware of where I wanted to be, my ultimate interests and what I want to achieve in the future.
On my return I spent a long time applying for jobs and grad schemes without ever feeling that they were what I wanted to do. I had developed a love for people, understanding their intricacies and what drives their behaviour, having observed such variety in South America, but found that the standard investment banking, marketing or management consultancy never managed to excite me. Through the milkround I found out about Market Research vacancies and started to read more about it. It was all about people and understanding how they work, it functioned on a global scale and required at least one European language. I interviewed and was able to convey a genuine passion for my curiosity about people.
I love my job and am currently running a project from London that will take place in Spain and my Spanish is invaluable.
Without my year abroad I would have had no idea what I wanted to do, I wouldn’t have made some unforgettable friends, had some unforgettable experiences and I certainly wouldn’t have left university being able to speak Spanish fluently. What I took away from the experience wasn’t solely related to the course and I am thankful that I had the opportunity to become a confident person, who is now able to think beyond the sheltered British mentality."