Why should language students have all the fun?

Hannah with a husky pup

This article was written by Hannah Barr, published on 13th June 2013 and has been read 3321 times.

My degree is in Theology. That’s it, just plain Theology. (If you’re wondering, no, I don’t want to be a nun). But the last place you’d imagine a theology degree to take you is up a mountain, on the back of a dog sled, atop ten feet of snow, in temperatures of minus thirty, hidden in deepest, darkest Quebec. And yet, with the study abroad option, that is exactly where I ended up three quarters of the way into my humble theology degree. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Undergraduates at the University of Exeter are phenomenally lucky: every single full-time undergraduate has the opportunity to go abroad for a full year, regardless of subject. This means that it’s not just the languages students peacocking around as fourth years, boasting about tapas feasts in the Barcelona sunset or acting out The Sound of Music where it was actually filmed; us non-languages students have got in on the act of third year abroad fun.


So just what are the perks of doing a year abroad as a non-MFL student? Well, you certainly stand out from the crowd come graduation – next year, there won’t be many graduates in Theology with Study Abroad; at Exeter, I’ll be the only one. Out of the thousands upon thousands of English students in the country, imagine how the experiences of studying American Literature in America or First Nations Literature from a First Nations member will look on the CV. Just think of all the anecdotes you have for interviews. I’m relying on the story of how I nearly got killed by a whale to be a trump card; nothing says initiative like working out how to not die at the hands/fins of a killer mammal.


But the year abroad is so much more than CV-plumping. Put simply, my year abroad was the best year of my life, and I say that completely genuinely and sans-hyperbole. From a study abroad perspective, I got to learn about things and from people that I would never in a million years have had the opportunity to in a normal three year theology degree from Exeter. From a living abroad perspective, however, the things saw and the things I did just render me dumbstruck if I think about them all too much. I got to test the limits of my character and discovered just how phenomenally brave I am in the process. I learnt more about myself and was impressed by it. In true Simba-style, I laughed in the face of danger…by ignoring a frostbite warning and going out without gloves. Every day I am thankful to still have fingers…


In all seriousness, to all you non-MFL-ers: if you have the opportunity to go abroad, take it! Maybe you’ll join the majority of your language students in Europe and end up in Sweden? Maybe you’ll travel for days and chill with the kangaroos for a year? Maybe you’ll make like this theology student and have the best year of your life in the incredible country that is Canada? (Do that, go to Canada – it’s amazing!)


It doesn’t matter where you go, it just matters that you go.

For the latest update from Hannah, check out her blog, 'A Thologian in Canada'!

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