Robert now works as a German-speaking sales and marketing assistant
Robert did a BScEcon in European Union Studies at Cardiff Uni and spent his year abroad as a secondary school Language Assistant in Alzey, Germany. He graduated in 2011 and is now a German-speaking sales and marketing assistant.
"I spent 6 months teaching in a secondary school in the small town of Alzey, Germany. Alzey was rather isolated and there was very little to see or do, but it provided me with a perfect snapshot of traditional German life. I lived with a German couple who rented out their basement to the local school’s language assistants and they were kind, inviting and eager to teach me all about Germany and the local area. At school, I worked in a number of different roles, from teaching assistant to supply teacher, and every day presented a new and rewarding challenge. It was a life-changing experience in many ways. At the time I learnt about independence and resilience, and got a unique insight into another country’s culture. I made lifelong friends, learnt about new traditions and experienced an imitable adventure.
With hindsight, my experiences also taught me invaluable skills both academically and professionally. I learnt how to get the best out of people by adapting the way I communicate and interact with them and I learnt how to lead effectively through my time in the classroom. I also gained experience of problem-solving and planning and organisation simply by adjusting to day-to-day life in another country and using my language skills to deal with tasks which I took for granted at home, such as opening a bank account, sending parcels, paying rent or booking a train. Travel was a particular highlight of my time in Germany: not only did I become a part of Alzey’s community, my manageable school timetable and generous wages afforded me the opportunity to see the country and I frequently met up with fellow language assistants to see different towns and cities across Germany.
On a personal level, I grew in terms of confidence, maturity and respect for others; on a professional level, I grew in terms of employability, transferable global skills and experience.
Since graduation, I have been employed as a German-speaking sales and marketing assistant for a small firm near my home town, but my options remain wide-open to me. I am currently considering working abroad or even moving into teaching.
Wherever I end up, I know I can face any challenge I encounter and I know to relish every opportunity as a chance to learn and grow. I will never forget my time in Germany, for all it taught me about myself, what I am capable of, and about the world we live in."
In partnership with the British Academy and University Council of Modern Languages (UCML) we gathered short reports from graduates on the importance that the year abroad has had for them, in terms of their skill set, their careers and their lives. These reports formed the basis of the Position Statement: Valuing the Year Abroad. Browse the reports below for inspiration, and select a tag within a report to read more on that theme.