Polly studied abroad in Ferrara and is now an entrepreneur
It truly did live up to my hopes. Firstly, I spent seven months in Ferrara, a beautiful medieval city in Northeast Italy. I was enrolled in the university, but also taught private English conversation lessons. Because it was a reasonably small place I found it quite easy to integrate into the Italian life, making friends not just with other students but with locals as well, which really improved my language skills. In the late spring, I went to Brussels to undertake a two-month long internship, which involved interviewing and compiling the profiles of over 50 individuals to produce a book called “Changemakers in Brussels”. After this, I started another internship at the Chateau de Montaigne in Southwest France, near Bordeaux. I gave guided tours of the tower where Montaigne wrote his ‘Essais’, working in the bookshop and selling the wine produced on site. Again, I found that my language skills improved very quickly – especially as I was giving guided tours to the French.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed my year abroad. That’s not to say that it was easy; operating in different cultures and different languages is always a challenge. However, it was through these experiences that I was able to develop my confidence as well as moving my languages towards fluency.
I graduated this summer but and am now the Co-founder of a large-scale campaign which will be launching in the spring called “Talk to me London”. I genuinely believe that if I had done a three year course, I would not have chosen this path. However, the year abroad gave me the confidence – and the time – to do so."
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.