Is a mandatory year abroad putting you off a uni course? Or are you freaking out because you´re about to leave your beloved home country for a year? Listen up because you´re about to hear 15 reasons why you’re guaranteed to have the best year of your life!
1. It takes your language skills to a whole new level
If you´re doing a language degree, then there is categorically no better way to advance your foreign language skills. Until you find yourself in a remote town in your chosen country where English speakers are few and far between, you won´t have experienced the absolute necessity to communicate in the foreign language. And even if you´re not doing a language degree, it´s impossible to spend a year in a foreign country without picking up some of the language!
2. It increases your confidence
Forced language use goes hand in hand with improved confidence. Having to tackle complex tasks and problems in the target language, such as finding accommodation, reading and signing a tenancy agreement, setting up a bank account, using public transport, recovering lost property (yes, I did leave my phone on the bus…) requires confidence, the ability to ask questions and understand the answers. Aside from the language element, travelling alone to a new place takes bravery, you´ll come home feeling as if you´ve conquered the world.
3. The weather!
Wherever you go, the climate is bound to be pretty different from what you´re used to. Whether you head south to a warmer climate where you´ll feel like you´re on a permanent holiday, or venture up north to experience the beauty of snowy landscapes, you´re sure to appreciate the new environment that surrounds you.
4. You’re never alone
You may think that you´re all alone in this life-altering experience but you´re really not! Even if you´re going to a remote town, there will be someone nearby feeling just as clueless as you. Join relevant Facebook groups before you leave to try and find people in your area and make an effort to meet up with them when you arrive! Even if they aren´t your cup of tea, it´s a starting point and it’s bound to help you make connections and quite possibly, friends for life.
5. You make friends with the locals!
They honestly aren´t as scary as you think. Take advantage of their welcoming nature (I can only speak for Spaniards!) and make conversational effort because they will really appreciate it. Say yes to any invitations or opportunities you´re given because they will enable you to socialise and widen your network. They also hold all the secrets to the local area and will help you discover things that you would never have otherwise known!
6. You can have a break from studying!
Most universities allow you to work rather than study whilst on your year abroad and my advice is to seize this opportunity! Take a break from university studies and earn some money to use towards travelling! If you´re a UK university student, I would highly recommend choosing the British Council scheme as it´s good pay for minimal hours, you can spend the rest of your time immersing yourself in cultural activities.
7. You become bicultural
How things are done in your home country isn´t how they´re done throughout the world. You´ll have your eyes and your mind opened to different daily routines, different foods, music, attitudes, values and morals…There are so many different cultural worlds within our world as a whole and being immersed in one other than your own makes you appreciate some aspects of your home culture, and find faults in others.
8. You get to see so many new places
If you do your year abroad right, you´ll be travelling most weekends. Take the opportunity to explore different parts of the country you´re living in because they will all have their own unique customs and dialects. Maybe even venture to neighbouring countries as it´s likely that flights will be cheap!
9. You come to appreciate loved ones you´ve left behind
We all love our friends and family, but we probably take them for granted when we live in the same country as them. Relationships are put to the test when you move away, and missing people is only natural. It becomes clear who is supporting you and vice versa, teaching you how to successfully manage long-distance relationships.
10. You get to be tour guide when loved ones come to visit!
This really makes you feel like a local, and your visitors will be impressed with how well you´ve settled in. You can show them all the best aspects of your town and give them an insight into the life you´ve been living.
11. You have the option to attend national or regional festivals
Sought out any renowned festivals in your country and get yourself there! To have been in Seville for Easter; Valencia for Las Fallas; Brighton for Pride; Dublin for St Patricks, are experiences you´ll never forget and stories you´ll tell for years to come.
12. It will massively enrich your CV and increase your employability
Employers value experience over qualifications a lot of the time. Living out of your comfort zone in a foreign country for a year won´t fail to impress at an interview, regardless of the job. You will have gained a mountain of transferable skills applicable to any job so use the experience to your advantage!
13. It´s inspiring
When you´ve completed your year abroad, you realise how much you´ve accomplished and how happy you´d be to live the year all over again. You feel inspired not only to continue achieving great things, but to return to live in the country after you´ve completed your degree at home.
14. When you leave, everything is wide open
Although you´ll be sad to leave, you´ll feel as if you´re welcome back at any time. You may have job opportunities waiting for you, trips planned with new friends, or extra work or travel related plans tagged onto the end of your year. There isn´t a closed door in sight.
15. You will return home a more rounded person
I hate to say it but all the year abroad clichés are absolutely true. Having lived in a different culture and gained a new perspective on life, you will have a newfound respect for so many things.