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Intern Insight - What's it like to Study Abroad?

by YPU Admin on April 24, 2020, Comments. Tags: BMH, intern, intern insight, psychology, Study Abroad, travel, usa, and year abroad

Introduction

Hi, my name is Emma and I currently work as a graduate intern at The University of Manchester. Before I was an intern, I was a student here! I studied Psychology and graduated in Summer 2019. I chose Psychology as it was my favourite subject at A-Level and I chose Manchester as I loved the city and also the Psychology course allowed me to do a Study Abroad year. This means that my third year of University was spent 3204 miles away from Manchester, studying at The University of Massachusetts Amherst in the US!

What was it like to Study Abroad?

I won’t lie, the first two weeks that I spent in America were super hard. I had so many questions running through my head… Have I made the right decision? Will I ever get used to this new country? Will all my friends still be my friends when I get back? But, just as with my first two weeks starting in Manchester, all of the worries and fears disappeared as soon as I got into the flow and got more used to my surroundings. Through fun events put on by the International Programmes Office at UMass, like American football games, quizzes and BBQs, I made friends with lots of other British and Australian exchange students who were all going through the same culture-shock as me.

All of my American friends were amazing and super supportive, I even spent the Thanksgiving holidays with one of my friends and her family. It was also fun introducing our new American friends to all the finest things about the UK… aka Love Island! I loved spending time with my American friends and learning about their country but it was also super nice to have my UK and Australian friends that were going through the same as me and to be able to talk about our home comforts.

One of the things I enjoyed most about my Study Abroad year was (funnily enough) the studying. The way University is structured in the US is different to how we study in the UK. My timetable in the US ran so that Monday, Wednesday and Friday were all the same and Tuesday and Thursday were the same, whereas in the UK, each day is different. I actually liked the US way better as it meant I had shorter lectures and was able to digest the information better. In America, they also have mid-term exams (just like the movies!!). This meant that instead of being tested just at the end of the semester, like in the UK, you were tested more frequently throughout the year. Again, I personally enjoyed this more as it felt like I was being tested on my knowledge throughout and it meant I really did have to stay on top of my work!

      


What are the benefits of Studying Abroad?

The academic benefits of studying abroad are endless. I had to adapt my learning style to fit in with the way University works in the US and this meant that coming back to the UK for my final year, I was able to use all of the new skills I had learnt and ways of working to help me achieve higher grades. I was also able to take modules that aren’t available at Manchester such as LGBTQ+ Psychology, Educational Psychology and The Psychology of Adoption.

As well as the academic benefits, there are so many personal benefits to studying abroad. The most obvious personal benefit for me was getting to travel. I’d never been outside of Europe before so getting to explore cities like Boston, New York and Toronto was something I never thought I would get the opportunity to do. Another personal benefit was gaining even more independence and confidence. I feel like if I can just up and move to the other side of the Atlantic on my own, there isn’t much I couldn’t do now. I’ve also made friends for life – I’ve got friends up and down this country as well as a best friend in Sydney and some of my closest friends dotted around the US.  

If you can do a course that offers a year abroad or semester abroad, I would say 100% go for it. The benefits are endless and you will have the time of your life. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am so glad that I decided to go!

    

Going Further...

If you’re interested in finding out more about anything that I have spoken about please head to these links for more info:


 

Study Abroad: Where will your degree take you?

by YPU Admin on November 12, 2015, Comments. Tags: European Studies, french, languages, politics, Research, Study Abroad, undergraduate, and UoM

Introduction

Hi, my name is Carys Rees-Owen and I am a recent graduate of European Studies and French. Doing a joint honours degree gave me loads of options, which is why I chose this degree. I studied French, History and English Literature at A levels – I always knew I wanted to study French at university, as I loved languages, but I also wanted to specialise in another subject. European Studies allows you to choose any module from the Politics, History or Economics department, with one or two compulsory modules in European Politics every year. I decided to focus on politics modules as I’d always followed the news and took part in debates.

In Depth

Choosing Where To Go

The best thing about my degree was the option to spend my third year abroad in order to improve my French. I had the choice of studying abroad, teaching English abroad as an English Language Assistant or working abroad. I wanted a bit of variety, and definitely wasn’t ready to get a proper job or internship. I wasn’t too eager to spend a whole other year studying either, but I did want to experience life as a French student. I decided to make a compromise – I applied to study at a university in Lyon, France for the first term and then applied to be a Comenius assistant in Martinique, a small French island in the Caribbean, for the second term. A Comenius assistant is similar to an English Language Assistant, however with the option to teach another subject besides English (like politics). All assistant jobs are funded by the British Council, meaning all my accommodation, food and travel costs were covered as well as an allowance for living. I also got an Erasmus grant for studying at a European university, so the cost of going abroad was never a big worry for me.

My Year Abroad

I moved to Lyon, France’s second biggest city, at the end of summer 2013. After a lot of searching, I managed to find a flat with another 3 French students just down the road from my university. The next five months are a blur of cheese, good wine and French cafés. I loved living in France, but studying there was completely different to how I imagined. Lectures lasted 3 hours long (when in Manchester they last an hour) and it felt a bit more like high school – there was a lot less discussion and debate than I was used to in Manchester. I studied Politics modules there, but in French. It was interesting to see how similar topics were taught in France but from a completely different angle. I did struggle at first with my courses but as my French improved I found it a lot easier. I saw such a drastic improvement in my French in such a short amount of time, and definitely took advantage of discovering a new city.


I then moved to Martinique in January 2014. It’s such a beautiful island, with so many white sandy beaches, thick jungle and a great mix of French and local Creole culture existing there. I worked in a high school for 5 months, working roughly twelve hours a week.  This meant that the rest of the time I had there I was free to do whatever I wanted. I spent my time on beaches, hiking in the jungle and mountains and exploring the island. Teaching English was challenging, especially considering that my pupils were only 4 years younger than myself but it was a really good way to integrate into the local community. I made really good friends with some of the other teachers there, who taught me more about the culture and history of Martinique.


Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better year abroad. I got to experience French student life, as well as spend months lounging on white sand beaches in the Caribbean. More importantly, my French improved drastically, as did my confidence. Moving to a completely different country without knowing anybody is incredibly challenging, and sometimes frustrating, but the experiences I had were definitely worth it.

Going Further

Getting the chance to study abroad isn’t just limited to language students either – check if your course allows you to study abroad for a semester! I’d recommend checking out these websites for more information on what you could do:

www.thirdyearabroad.com  

http://www.britishcouncil.org/study-work-create