Common Year Abroad Misconceptions
by University of Denver
The time has come for us to dispel the most common year abroad misconceptions! Here goes...1. "The year abroad is just for language students"
It isn't! An increasing number of universities are offering the year abroad to students of other disciplines, from Engineering and History to Law and Medicine. Check with your tutor to see if you are eligible for a year abroad, and keep working hard as your grades are play an important role in deciding where you can go.
2. "Spending a year abroad will be really expensive"
Not necessarily. If you choose your destination carefully, it is possible to come home with more money than when you left! Just think: if you study abroad for a year on an Erasmus exchange then you don't have to pay tuition fees, you will receive a monthly Erasmus grant of €235 (2010-11), you can apply for a travel grant, and you can earn money by taking up a part-time job (interpreting, journalism, bar work, babysitting...).
3. "I'll have to do the same thing for the whole of my year abroad"
Think of your year abroad as being divided into sections: the summers before and after, and two semesters. Students studying two languages will have to 'do the splits' and divide their year in two, but if you're studying one language, you can still do entirely different things in the two semesters; study in Spain and then work in Latin America, volunteer in Madagascar then work in France - it's up to you, but check with your tutor before confirming your plans. We also recommend making the most of your summer holidays, especially if you're a language student, as it's a great opportunity to do a language-boosting job/internship/course/adventure.
4. "When I get back from my year abroad, all my friends will have already graduated"
As degrees with a year abroad generally last four years, your friends on three-year courses will graduate before you. If this is of real concern, you should consider applying for a degree at a university in Scotland where all standard courses last four years, so you can all graduate together - with a Masters degree!*
5. "I'll end up being a teacher, interpreter or translator"
Of course these options are open to you as a Modern Language graduate, but you could also bring international business to any company you chose to work for! We've been looking into this and have discovered that employers like training up graduates who are eager to learn, but they can't teach linguistic fluency in 6 weeks so that's one of the key benefits of studying languages at university! You could work in marketing, PR, advertising, banking... anything really! And you could be based abroad. First things first though: find out how to kick-start your career with languages in style.
6. "It's just one more year out of the job market"
If you work instead of studying on your year abroad, you could get the experience and connections you need to give you a huge step up when it comes to finding a job after graduation. Even if you decide to study on your year abroad and start job hunting a year after your friends, you will have the self-confidence, independence, fluency and intercultural understanding after your time away that you will need to help you ace interviews by being a unique candidate. Never underestimate the year abroad :)
7. "I'll be all on my own there - there's no support network open to me"
That's where ThirdYearAbroad.com fits in! Become a Member for free and search for new friends by city and get advice from previous and current students, ask questions in our Forum, on our Facebook page or on Twitter, create your own guidebook to your city and get top tips from our brilliant 'When You Arrive' section to help you settle in, help you combat the Year Abroad Blues, support you if your plans fall through and help you make friends with locals.
*Only if you're studying fine art, humanities, social sciences or theology at The University of St Andrews, the University of Glasgow, the University of Aberdeen, the University of Edinburgh or the University of Dundee.