John was a Language Assistant in Madrid and is now an interpreter for the Armed Forces

John was a Language Assistant in Madrid and is now an interpreter for the Armed Forces RAF Falcons by Paula Funnell

This article was written by Global Graduates, published on 26th March 2012 and has been read 36494 times.

John studied Spanish and Accounting at Newcastle University and spent his year abroad as a Language Assistant through the British Council and Spanish Ministry of Education in Fuenlabrada, Madrid. He graduated in 2006 and is now a fully-qualified interpreter in the forces.
"It was without a doubt the period in my life that helped me mature from adolescence to adulthood and gave me the confidence to be the person I have become today.

I faced certain hardships whilst abroad, including an initial struggle to find accommodation, a temporary but rather debilitating issue with my student loan, as well as a family bereavement, on top of the usual issues of settling into a new way of life, a different culture and discovering that my language skills weren't quite where I thought they were! But all of these things only helped to strengthen my character and made the overall experience even more worthwhile!

The experience abroad, above all else, gave me the confidence that I could achieve whatever I put my mind to, and my language skills improved immeasurably too! I have since been back to visit the landlady of the third flat I lived in, as well as returning to help out at the school I taught in. You really can build some fantastic relationships if you fully grasp the opportunities available to you whilst abroad. While there I always felt like an ambassador for the UK, and it paid off!

For approximately 4 years I worked in finance (mortgages and pensions) as finding a job was hard to come by and opportunities in those fields presented themselves to me. However, after about 2 years I decided that it wasn't for me and had a really good think about what direction I wanted my life to go in, and eventually decided to apply for the Royal Air Force. In 2010 I started my training to become an interpreter and I'm now 3 months away from being a fully qualified interpreter in the forces (having now learnt a slightly more obscure language).

I'm not sure that I would be where I am today had it not been for the amazing experience of the year abroad. I didn't always enjoy my time at university but I was desperate to have the opportunity and experience of living abroad and it has definitely paid off for me! Thank you!"

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.

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