Cultural enrichment in the sun.

Hello once again to all the prospective Year Abroad students, to my incredibly supportive and dedicated group of friends who persist with reading this blog, to the placements team who are forced to, and my mum, who is in her own way, also forced to read this. This edition of my blog, as per special request, is going to focus and elaborate on the ways that electing to study a degree program with a Year Abroad can enrich your life, as a student, young professional and individual.

The YA can provide a huge variety of opportunities that will allow an undergraduate student, or indeed any student to improve their language skills, confidence, culinary abilities, open mindedness, as well as offer a general diversification of the cerebral variety. The skills, experiences and opportunities afforded you on your year abroad will benefit you in a plethora of ways, especially in the beginnings of your career.

I’d like to take a minute here, to invite you to imagine your first step into the world of professionals, briefcase in hand, new suit and shiny new shoes (probably from Primark, spent all the rest of the cash on your suit didn’t you?). You’re ready to put your foot onto the first rung of the capitalist ladder that you will eventually fall off, unfortunately nearer to the age of 70 rather than 60 with a meager pension and full of general disillusionment with the world around you. How exciting right?! Now imagine, taking that first step after a very long trip abroad, interspersed with work placements and internships to pepper your CV with that extra bit of knowledge, sounds… slightly more manageable right?

Beyond the jokes, the Year Abroad is quite literally a once in a lifetime opportunity. After you leave University and (hopefully) get a job, it’s unlikely that your boss is going to grant you a 12-month long vacation period. Even less so, when the justification you provide for asking for this is to spend the next year of your life living in the sun, surrounded by like-minded individuals all working together to help improve your language skills and cultural understanding. So, make the most of it while you can! This leads me into my next point….

Love different languages and cultures? Love learning? YA is the one for you. This is quite honestly the best opportunity to become completely immersed in your host countries culture. A word of warning here however, the YA is what you make of it; should you choose to spend your time in your host country hanging around in the nearest Irish pub / Starbucks taking pictures of your mocha lattes with your mates from school that have come to visit you on the Costa del Sol, you are unlikely to assimilate very far into the rich cultural diversity on offer.

Another clear benefit to studying abroad is the opportunity granted to you to discover yourself. Much like the writings of Marx, the YA will liberate you from your societal bonds, your job at Costa on the weekends, your old friends, Uni flat, and whatever else you will be leaving behind in your country of origin. When you take that first step off the plane, you are granted the opportunity to explore sides of yourself even you may not have even known existed. Being alone in a foreign country can obviously be slightly overwhelming sometimes, but through these tests you’re provided with the opportunity to improve upon your own problem solving skills and ability to adapt.

Last point: future employers, graduate school admissions boards, your nan and recruitment agencies are all among those who will respect you just that little bit more for jetting off to hang around in Spain’s tapas bars, work alongside people from your host country and for becoming a more cultured individual.  Students that have spent time abroad are the fastest to solve new challenges, among the most innovative and independent and aren’t afraid to put themselves out there. Alongside this, a year abroad is a perfect opportunity to show just how committed you are to your education.

The year abroad truly is a remarkable experience for all those who undertake it, one that you can never get again and one that will provide you with opportunities to come further down the line!

Posted in: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Placements

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