Richard was a Language Assistant in Munich and is now an EU official at the European Commission

Richard was a Language Assistant in Munich and is now an EU official at the European Commission by European Parliament

This article was written by Global Graduates, published on 22nd April 2012 and has been read 31255 times.

Richard studied French and German at Queens University Belfast and spent his year abroad as a Language Assistant in Munich. He graduated in 1982 and is now an EU official at the European Commission in Brussels.
"I was an English Language Assistant in Munich, Germany from September 1979 to June 1980 teaching English to final year students at two secondary schools and one grammar school. The work taught me the value of forward planning, creativity in lesson composition to engage the students and in presentation in front of a critical audience. Quite apart from enhancing my linguistic skills, it gave me the opportunity to experience a different culture and outlook, to learn another way of viewing the world. During the summer of 1980 I worked in an electronics firm, which gave me an appreciation for the solid medium sized firms that make up the German industrial base.

I supplemented this year abroad by a 3-week French course in Geneva supported by my University.

What I gained was a love and appreciation for languages and a desire to use them in a European context. Initially I joined the civil service working in environmental protection and then moving to transport issues. However I always wanted to use my languages and managed to beat the competition to become a detached national expert in the European Commission. I had no problems moving (with my family) to another EU country having already done so in the past. My linguistic skills were a positive asset. I then passed an open competition and became an EU official. I use my languages every day in my current employment in the European Commission in Brussels and enjoy the rich diversity that working with colleagues from different nationalities can bring. It is noticeable that there are comparatively few British nationals working in the EU institutions; unlike other nationalities we are way below our 'quota'. Even when British national experts come to work for the institutions, they rarely can speak anything more than basic French, which restricts what they can do."

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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