Published on April 8, 2014
As a Modern Languages student, I was "forced" to take a year abroad. I use the word "force" very lightly as, essentially, I get to explore the world for a year and I can call it "studying".
On starting my second year at Bristol, I was 99% certain that I was going to spend six months in Madrid and six months in the south of France. A few weeks later in first term, I bumped into some fourth years who had just returned from their year abroad in South America. They showered me with arguments, "you live in Europe, you can go to Spain whenever you want," "you're never going to have another opportunity like this". They didn't need to waste their breath. The following day I had told my housemates and my parents that I was going to Chile. As a huge admirer of Spanish culture, I had already spent three summers in Madrid and I was never going to be given six months to go and play in the other hemisphere again. Eighteen months later and here I am in Santiago, Chile.
My two placements could not be more different; the destinations, the culture and the jobs themselves. In France I was teaching in a tiny town in the middle of the Pyrenees and now I'm in a Latin American business hub and everyday I wake up to a view of the Andes. Both placements have dragged me out of my comfort zone (the classroom) and have pushed me to my limits in every way possible. I have learned more in 8 months in the real world than I have in 2 years in my university "bubble". I have always loved learning the old fashioned way (lecture theaters, books and classmates) and there's no doubt that I miss Bristol but, right now, I can't imagine being back in that classroom.