Clare was a Language Assistant in Hamburg and a radio intern in Nantes and is now a teacher
As a teaching assistant, I gained 6 months of valuable lesson observations, and experience at working with young people, as well as an insight into the education system of a different country with its own problems and strengths. I am now a French teacher on the Teach First graduate scheme, in a challenging boys' school in East London. Without the knowledge and skills gained from working in a German school, I would be in a far worse position to develop my teaching today.
Working at the radio station was extremely challenging. As part of a team of European interns, every day I researched, recorded, broadcast, translated and composed news items with the ‘local European’ angle of the radio station in mind. I interviewed countless local politicians, MEPs, reported from Paris, and the European Parliament in Strasbourg and learnt the practical, technical and legal side of radio. The other interns came from across Europe, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Belgium, France, Germany, Romania and Russia; friends and journalists I am in contact with to this day.
Above all, I feel that the year abroad stretched and challenged me in ways that my exams and coursework at university never could have. The physical and mental stresses of living and working abroad are incredibly character-building, and I find I am now far more able to cope with difficult environments and stress as a result. The cultural understanding I gained from both placements has made a vast difference to the way I view the world on a day-to-day basis. To cite just one example, I teach many boys who have English as an additional language. Having been in their position, a non-native speaker, I am far better placed to help them overcome communication difficulties.
I strongly believe that every student, every person, not just linguists should spend a year abroad. It was not only the best year of my life, it was also the most formative experience I have ever had, and I gained far more in terms of knowledge and skills during this year than I have at any other stage of my education."
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.