Caroline was a Language Assistant in Murcia, and is now a brand manager at Boots
My year abroad was definitely the most formative year of my life. I got so much confidence from landing in Spain with nothing but a suitcase full of belongings and finding a place to call home, learning to teach, building up a network of friends and a fantastic life that 9 months later I really didn’t want to leave to go back to uni in England! I also became fluent in Spanish, a skill that 10 years on I’ve kept up and still use frequently – it’s helped me get jobs, facilitated travel around South and Central America and most importantly meant I could keep in touch with the wonderful people I met during that fantastic year I spent in Murcia.
When I graduated from University, I accepted a place on the graduate scheme at Gfk, one of the world’s biggest Market Research companies. I worked for Jaguar Land Rover on their Customer Satisfaction Programme and managed the survey for the Spanish market, frequently translating customer comments and conversing with my client in Spanish. After 2 years at Gfk I moved to Molson Coors where I did a number of roles, finally Brand Manager on Carling lager – I would use my Spanish frequently to converse with packaging suppliers based in Barcelona and for export activities. 6 weeks ago I joined Boots UK and haven’t yet used my Spanish but am sure opportunities will come up – perhaps in International Marketing in the future.
I wouldn’t hesitate to advocate the role of the year abroad – not only in making students fluent in a second language, but for the wealth of benefits it brings in so many areas. Whatever I’m faced with in life nowadays, it never seems as difficult as the prospect of arriving in Spain with nothing but a suitcase and having to find somewhere to live and build a life for myself. It really was one of the most enjoyable, enriching and confidence building experiences of my life."
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.