Katie now works for a property management company in California
Katie studied French and Spanish at Surrey University and spent her year abroad La Rochelle, Paris and the Basque country. She graduated in 2011 and is now works in compliance for a property management company in California.
"For my year abroad, I spent nine months in France (near La Rochelle and also in Paris) and five months in the Basque country in the north of Spain, as an English teacher/teaching assistant. Before leaving for the year abroad, I would have done anything to not go away, to not participate, but now, having completed it, I can honestly say it was the BEST part of my degree and the year that taught me the most, not only about my degree subject, but about myself. I was able to live in and visit some truly fantastic locations - places I would not have even known about had it not been for the placement year.
Moving abroad made me far more independent and self-reliant; it taught me to trust my own judgements and made me much more confident - characteristics that have continuously helped me since graduating, both professionally and personally. As a result, I recently moved to California, by myself, where I currently live and work. I do not think I would have been brave or confident enough to do this had I not completed the year abroad. I work in the Compliance department of a property management company and although I do not use my languages on a day-to-day basis, I believe that my jobs and experience in France and Spain were a large contributing factor in getting this job. They showed my flexibility at being able to work in and handle different and challenging situations and it showed my perseverance and determination when working through those situations. I do not intend to stay in this job or in California long-term, as I would prefer to be in England/Europe and have a more rewarding career that actually uses my skill-set acquired from my degree. I do believe, however, that I will have a significant advantage over other candidates when job-hunting because of my year abroad. From my experience, employers have been impressed by this year and the diversity of my CV and so I am not afraid to be job-hunting, even in the current economic climate.
On a more personal level, the year abroad gave me the chance to see “what I was made of”. It was, by no means, the easiest year of my life, but it was the year that will provide me with the fondest memories and the year that made me the person I am today. I learnt about the cultures and people of these countries in a way that simply would not have been possible without this opportunity, and I matured and developed more than I believe I ever would have done if I had not lived and worked abroad. Few people get the chance to live in a different country for a significant period of time and so I would wholeheartedly recommend to undergraduate students to take the plunge and participate in a year abroad. It will change your life in the most positive of ways and provide you with unforgettable memories!"
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.