Kim was a Language Assistant in Perpignan and now works for a Luxury Yacht Management Company in Monaco
When I first began my degree, it was made totally clear that the level of knowledge and skill expected from me was a massive leap from what I had been used to at college; so much so, in fact, I nearly left after the first year afraid that I would never match up to the expectations. Despite the huge efforts employed, my spoken French was my weakest point, stealing my confidence to ever succeed. It was thanks to my year abroad that I can now and still speak and understand French quite fluently. The year in Perpignan not only gave me the opportunity to completely immerse myself in the language and culture of a country which I ended up falling in love with, it was also an insight to another way of life outside of England. In the end, I passed my degree with a First.
As soon as I sat my last exam in the summer of 2008, I packed up my flat in Leeds to leave England, and began my job search on the Cote d’Azur. It wasn’t easy for an inexperienced foreigner to clinch her job deal, especially as the recession gripped globally, but the year abroad had made me fearless, unrelenting and determined. Finally, I was hired by a Luxury Yacht Management Company in Monaco to work as a charter broker’s assistant and I haven’t looked back since!
This introduction to the yachting industry has seen me move from the office, to the actual yachts, being head-hunted for my French speaking skills allowing me to liaise with suppliers, owners, crew and guests when others can’t. This industry has taken me from France to Italy to Croatia to Greece to Dubai to Abu Dhabi to the Caribbean and back again, all expenses paid whilst being paid. I am so thankful for the opportunity which was given to me by the University of Leeds, an opportunity which changed me for the better allowing me to be more flexible, accepting and broadminded. An opportunity which has lead me to where I am now (Antigua), in a job which I love working with a great international crew. Here, the scenery changes every day, and life is a little less serious then I was previously convinced it had to be."
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.