takemethere
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I have completed two years of a French and Spanish degree at the University of Manchester and am currently taking a year out due to issues with undertaking a year abroad. I have spoken to the university about this and they won't help me at all, they are adamant I have to do it (despite telling one of my coursemates last year that he would be able to go straight into final year and graduate without honours).

Basically I'm just wondering if anyone knows of a university that aren't as strict as Manchester about it? Ideally I'd prefer a university at least as good as Manchester. I know some universities don't include the year abroad at all, but they all seem to be small universities that don't have high entrance requirements. Surely I'm not the only person to find their year abroad too difficult? Any help would be greatly appreciated!
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Anatheme
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(Original post by takemethere)
I have completed two years of a French and Spanish degree at the University of Manchester and am currently taking a year out due to issues with undertaking a year abroad. I have spoken to the university about this and they won't help me at all, they are adamant I have to do it (despite telling one of my coursemates last year that he would be able to go straight into final year and graduate without honours).

Basically I'm just wondering if anyone knows of a university that aren't as strict as Manchester about it? Ideally I'd prefer a university at least as good as Manchester. I know some universities don't include the year abroad at all, but they all seem to be small universities that don't have high entrance requirements. Surely I'm not the only person to find their year abroad too difficult? Any help would be greatly appreciated!
I wouldn't think Manchester is that strict. A couple of girls in my year are skipping the year abroad (one's fluent already, the other actually dropped Arabic because she couldn't do the year abroad). Have you talked to D. Useless Herman, or your head of department(s)? What are their reasons for not letting you go straight into 3rd year?

I very much doubt you'll be able to find a university that would even let you transfer straight into 3rd year, you're likely to have to redo your 2nd year if you're lucky, and as you said, I don't think universities as good as Manchester will let you drop the year abroad unless you have better circumstances than "I can't do it".

Now why do you find it so difficult? Is it the culture, the language barrier, the option you took? Is it alright if you just go there for holidays, or do you just like the language and not the countries you picked? Is it that you're too far away from home, that it worries you, or do you feel like you don't belong there?

The problem is that you actually started your year abroad, and the university probably just wants the money, now, but if you insist, show evidence that you can't do it, they should do it. As much as you might hate your year abroad, you should also think of the consequences, if you don't take it, a degree without honours looks like a good price to pay for you, but then your degree becomes slightly pointless (imho).

In linguists, employers are looking for people who are independent, can deal with stressful situation and can adapt very quickly, as well as communicate easily. By not doing your year abroad because you think you can't do it, they may wonder why they should give you a job over someone who did a year abroad, and will consequently have a better understanding of the culture and the language.

I think everyone can take a year abroad. If you chose France and Spain, those countries are not miles away from England and it's easy to "commute". If by any chance you were ready to give it another try, maybe choose something comforting and easy to deal with. Teaching English might not be that easy because you have to be confident and be able to deal with students of a foreign language, trying to get a job may be really confusing and you run the risk of ending up with the crappiest job ever.

I think studying is the best option. Of course it's not easy to study in a foreign language, but you will learn a lot from it. There will also be other students in your case, so if you feel too insecure, or homesick, it's always great to have someone to whom you can talk to in English, and discuss about home and stuff. If you pick a nice and not too big city, you'll be less lost (I mean, Paris is a nightmare), and people are generally nicer than in capitals, and also more helpful.

I find it really sad that you feel you can't do it, because it's an incredible experience, you will learn more than you can imagine from it, and you'll gain invaluable skills. I moved to England by myself when I was 18, and left literally everything behind me, but it's probably the best decision I ever took in my life. I'm sure you can do it too, all you need is to take small steps towards your goal .
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Jack Dolan
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Why don't you want to do a year abroad? My Mum took a year abroad and also did a joint French and Spanish degree and it was one of her best life experiences!
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takemethere
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I've decided to retry my year abroad this year, I'm still terrified though Also need to decide whether to drop Spanish.
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Anatheme
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(Original post by takemethere)
I've decided to retry my year abroad this year, I'm still terrified though Also need to decide whether to drop Spanish.
I'm glad to read this! Where are you going, and are you going this year or next year? Regarding dropping out, the best I can say is follow your heart. If you're not sure, don't drop it, but if you feel like your degree is not right as it is, change it. I spent 2 years wanting to drop Arabic, only to discover during my year abroad that I was glad I hadn't changed it.

If you need advice about France or French, please ask away!
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Travelling_Girl
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(Original post by takemethere)
I've decided to retry my year abroad this year, I'm still terrified though Also need to decide whether to drop Spanish.
Well done. No matter how terrifying it is, once you've gotten through it you will be a much stronger person because of it. Not to mention you'll get to experience things that you'll probably never get the chance to do once you graduate.
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takemethere
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I'm considering dropping Spanish because I don't feel one semester in France and one in Spain is enough to improve my language skills and I'd prefer to be really good at one than average at both. I do ab-initio Spanish so it doesn't come to me as naturally as French does (even though my Spanish grade for second year was over 10% higher than my French - my uni makes no sense). Plus I've spoken to other students who have been on their year abroad in two countries and their language level is just not the same as those who've spent the year in one country (and no recognition is given for this). I'm just torn because I've worked really hard at Spanish for the past two years and because most of the French modules for final year sound awful and by dropping Spanish I'm going to have to take more of them.
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hmaus
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My sister studied Arabic and got married in first year so didn't want to go on her year abroad and be apart from her husband (who was also at uni doing another course, so couldn't really go with her). They agreed to let her drop the year but she just had to change her degree title from "Arabic" to "Arabic Cultural Studies" and she had to take more literature, history, culture etc modules in the final year rather than pure language ones.

My ex-flatmate started the year abroad, dropped out of it and never came back to uni, but I don't really know what happened or what the uni said, as she didn't keep in contact with anyone

A good friend of mine was quite scared about taking the year abroad due to social anxiety and she originally wasn't going to do it. In the end she started later than everyone else but did go and enjoyed it. She was at Glasgow and it sounds like they were quite understanding about it.

I think you should give your year abroad a try and think positive. The idea of it can be quite nerve wracking but most enjoy it. I agree with the above poster that studying sounds like the best option. I did assistantships and enjoyed them, but it is more isolating and harder to meet people that way. I was in the middle of nowhere in the countryside and lived with an old couple... luckily I like hiking and got on with the teachers and students, but I think a uni would be easier to adjust to.

I did two languages and my French suffered a bit, as by the time I got back to uni the French part of my year abroad was already 6 months in the past and no longer fresh in my mind, whereas other people in my class had just arrived back after one year there. On the other hand, my German part of the year was shorter but I was much better than the single honours students (not trying to brag )

Your language assistants at uni might be good people to speak to about it all, especially if they are quite young.

I hope you end up really enjoying yourself!
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hannah_dru
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Most of my friends do French and German and I've also found that they seem to be better at one language than the other because they spent more time in a particular country (and some didn't even go to the second one).

To be honest I think final year modules will always look daunting but it can be a different story when you actually do them. I've just finished one I was dreading last summer and now I look back on it and think it was nowhere near as bad as I'd imagined. I also spent a year in Germany and I do think the longer you're there, the more your language will improve.
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aurorastar
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Hi, I´m aware this forum is a good few years old but I´m now in a very similar situation. I´m studying Spanish & Russian at the University of Bristol and am currently on my year abroad in Barcelona for semester 1. In February I´m due to go to St. Petersburg, however my financial situation has changed and I´m now unable to fund it. The problem with Russia is that I won´t receive the Erasmus grant nor be able to work (due to visa restrictions), the two things keeping me financially stable here in Spain. I´ve tried explaining this to the university, however they just tell me to not worry as I won´t be invoiced for the cost of my course in Russia (1800 sterling) until April, however this is no better as by April I won´t be in a better situation as I won´t have any incoming funds (apart from student loan which doesn´t cover living expenses for 5 months). I really don´t want to drop Russian but it´s looking to be the only way out. Has anybody got any suggestions/been in a similar situation? Thanks in advance
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sophia5892
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(Original post by aurorastar)
Hi, I´m aware this forum is a good few years old but I´m now in a very similar situation. I´m studying Spanish & Russian at the University of Bristol and am currently on my year abroad in Barcelona for semester 1. In February I´m due to go to St. Petersburg, however my financial situation has changed and I´m now unable to fund it. The problem with Russia is that I won´t receive the Erasmus grant nor be able to work (due to visa restrictions), the two things keeping me financially stable here in Spain. I´ve tried explaining this to the university, however they just tell me to not worry as I won´t be invoiced for the cost of my course in Russia (1800 sterling) until April, however this is no better as by April I won´t be in a better situation as I won´t have any incoming funds (apart from student loan which doesn´t cover living expenses for 5 months). I really don´t want to drop Russian but it´s looking to be the only way out. Has anybody got any suggestions/been in a similar situation? Thanks in advance
Hi,

Do you know anything about the Student Finance Travel Grant?
https://www.gov.uk/travel-grants-stu...gland/overview

The website isn't particularly informative, and don't expect ringing student finance to get you anywhere either, but it's basically an extra fund for travel costs for students on study abroad.
It depends on your parent's income: the same kinda sliding scale they use for maintenance grant, but it is more generous in that I think the limit to get the full funding is annual income of around £30,000 a year rather than £25,000 a year. And everyone pays the first £303.

Although you'd still need to pay costs up front, i guess it might make a difference knowing you can claim it back! And I presume flights to Russia aren't cheap.

For my Year Abroad I spent a summer in Germany, an academic year in Japan and a summer in Canada. I was reimbursed for:
2 return flights to Japan
1 return flight to Canada
buses/taxis to train station and train ticket to airport and vice versa for all flights
16-25 railcard (used for the tickets above)
bus passes for travel from accommodation in Japan to university
cost of getting medical certificate and chest xray (required for Japan)
cost of Japanese visa

That was 2012/13 and I put my claims in in October and December last year after I'd returned (they rejected my Canada claim originally as they didn't know why I was in Canada despite me including a letter from myself and an official one from my university explaining the situation!).

The only other thing I could suggest is doing random scholarship searches but I guess you've already done that.
Or just really reiterate your situation to the uni and how you really don't want to have to drop Russian for financial reasons. They might be a bit more sympathetic if they understand the severity of your situation.
Of course that depends what you mean by your circumstances/finances changing, and just what advice your uni gave. ie. at my uni we repeatedly tell students that the Erasmus Grant is not meant to cover living costs, and each year we get a ton of students complaining that the Erasmus grant isn't enough to cover their living costs. And naturally we're quite unsympathetic about that
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Snufkin
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(Original post by sophia5892)
For my Year Abroad I spent a summer in Germany, an academic year in Japan and a summer in Canada.
Hi - what course did you do in Canada? Was it a summer school? I'd quite like to do something like that, is it usual to be reimbursed for short summer placements abroad?
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sophia5892
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Hi - what course did you do in Canada? Was it a summer school? I'd quite like to do something like that, is it usual to be reimbursed for short summer placements abroad?
Hi,

I did 3 weeks at a private language school in Montreal so it wasn't an official university exchange or anything.

I guess I was reimbursed because it still counted as part of my Year Abroad/ my university wrote me a letter for student finance stating that my time spent in Canada was a compulsory part of my studies.

Although I had technically fulfilled the Year Abroad requirements of 7 months YA activity by spending 10 months in Japan, they obviously encouraged me to spend time on my French/German too. Plus, European language students are allowed to split their time however they like, whereas i was "forced" to spend the academic year in Japan, ergo if i wanted to do anything for French/German it had to be done in the summer.

So I presume that if you take a summer school that is compulsory/that your univeristy is willing to attest is compulsory then you could get reimbursed too.
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moutonfou
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(Original post by aurorastar)
Hi, I´m aware this forum is a good few years old but I´m now in a very similar situation. I´m studying Spanish & Russian at the University of Bristol and am currently on my year abroad in Barcelona for semester 1. In February I´m due to go to St. Petersburg, however my financial situation has changed and I´m now unable to fund it. The problem with Russia is that I won´t receive the Erasmus grant nor be able to work (due to visa restrictions), the two things keeping me financially stable here in Spain. I´ve tried explaining this to the university, however they just tell me to not worry as I won´t be invoiced for the cost of my course in Russia (1800 sterling) until April, however this is no better as by April I won´t be in a better situation as I won´t have any incoming funds (apart from student loan which doesn´t cover living expenses for 5 months). I really don´t want to drop Russian but it´s looking to be the only way out. Has anybody got any suggestions/been in a similar situation? Thanks in advance
I would get together a list of:

- Your current outgoings per month to April
- Projected income to April (Erasmus grant, Jan/Apr student loan payments, employment income)
- Amount you would therefore expect to have available in April
- Details of any financial flexibility you have, for example interest free overdraft amount.
- Total amount you will need for Russia, including fees and projected living costs

Add it up - if, as you thought, it doesn't add up, take it and put it down in front of them and ask them exactly what they expect you to do - go bankrupt? Being presented with the physical numbers may awaken them more to your dilemma.

Nevertheless you may have to be willing to look into options such as an interest free overdraft or credit card. This isn't seen as unreasonable for students - most are interest free and can be kept on an interest free basis for up to 2 years after graduation. This is if you aren't using them already of course
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sophia5892
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(Original post by moutonfou)
I would get together a list of:

- Your current outgoings per month to April
- Projected income to April (Erasmus grant, Jan/Apr student loan payments, employment income)
- Amount you would therefore expect to have available in April
- Details of any financial flexibility you have, for example interest free overdraft amount.
- Total amount you will need for Russia, including fees and projected living costs

Add it up - if, as you thought, it doesn't add up, take it and put it down in front of them and ask them exactly what they expect you to do - go bankrupt? Being presented with the physical numbers may awaken them more to your dilemma.

Nevertheless you may have to be willing to look into options such as an interest free overdraft or credit card. This isn't seen as unreasonable for students - most are interest free and can be kept on an interest free basis for up to 2 years after graduation. This is if you aren't using them already of course
Be very very careful if you do get a credit card - I tried to apply to my uni's hardship fund to tide me over while i was waiting for student finance to process my travel grant application. They refused to count the £700 i had on my credit card as debt, instead saying that they'd only count the minimum monthly payment (around a fiver) because it wasn't necessary for me to pay any more off. Obviously the interest is extortionate if i don't pay it off within 60 days of purchase.

Seeing if you can extend your overdraft is always a good idea though!
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moutonfou
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(Original post by sophia5892)
Be very very careful if you do get a credit card - I tried to apply to my uni's hardship fund to tide me over while i was waiting for student finance to process my travel grant application. They refused to count the £700 i had on my credit card as debt, instead saying that they'd only count the minimum monthly payment (around a fiver) because it wasn't necessary for me to pay any more off. Obviously the interest is extortionate if i don't pay it off within 60 days of purchase.

Seeing if you can extend your overdraft is always a good idea though!
Yes sorry I meant a student credit card as well with a clear long-term interest-free period. Don't go near a credit card if it's a regular one with a limited interest-free period!
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sophia5892
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(Original post by moutonfou)
Yes sorry I meant a student credit card as well with a clear long-term interest-free period. Don't go near a credit card if it's a regular one with a limited interest-free period!
If you can tell me where to get one of those I'd be interested
I have a student one I use all the time which is interest free for 60 days after purchase. So I just always make sure i pay if off at the end of every month.
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xmarilynx
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(Original post by aurorastar)
Hi, I´m aware this forum is a good few years old but I´m now in a very similar situation. I´m studying Spanish & Russian at the University of Bristol and am currently on my year abroad in Barcelona for semester 1. In February I´m due to go to St. Petersburg, however my financial situation has changed and I´m now unable to fund it. The problem with Russia is that I won´t receive the Erasmus grant nor be able to work (due to visa restrictions), the two things keeping me financially stable here in Spain. I´ve tried explaining this to the university, however they just tell me to not worry as I won´t be invoiced for the cost of my course in Russia (1800 sterling) until April, however this is no better as by April I won´t be in a better situation as I won´t have any incoming funds (apart from student loan which doesn´t cover living expenses for 5 months). I really don´t want to drop Russian but it´s looking to be the only way out. Has anybody got any suggestions/been in a similar situation? Thanks in advance
Couldn't you do cash in hand work (English tutoring, proof-reading English theses, bar-work etc) and just not declare it?
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sophia5892
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(Original post by xmarilynx)
Couldn't you do cash in hand work (English tutoring, proof-reading English theses, bar-work etc) and just not declare it?
theoretically possible perhaps, but definitely not something you want to be relying on. And have to be very careful - it's not worth getting caught
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aurorastar
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Thank you for your responses! It might be possible to get some work but as Sophia has said it´s not something I can rely on, and if I am to be caught I´ll have my visa revoked and the Uni threaten to kick you out!
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