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    I'm thinking of doing a Geography degree with a year abroad in France or in another french speaking country. I do A level french and really want to build on my fluency

    Although iv heard losts of opinions about the year abroad programmes. they range from "pfft.... sounds like an excuse for a holiday for a year in the middle of your degree" to... "employers LOVE it!

    what exactly do you do on the year abroad? why is it looked highly upon? all iv heard is that you go to a uni in that country and learn your subject there. How valuble can that really be (bar language skills)??
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    I've just got back from my year abroad and it was the best year of my life.... I'm never going to be in a situation again where my flatmates are from 6 different countries and speak 7 different languages as their native language yet we all manage to get by perfectly fine (eventually) in English. I was in Scandanavia, so none of us spoke the local language and most people were there to improve their English.

    I'd say employers appricate year abroad students (particularly if it isn't part of your degree) as it shows that you are adaptable and having spent a year living in another country puts your life in the UK into a much bigger perspective. I see Europe as essentially my back garden now and I've got friends from pretty much every country in the EU, and a lot in the rest of the world. Spending a period of time living abroad meeting others from different countries lets you learn about the pros and cons of places, and makes you realise that there are so many different approaches to say, the compulsory education system, so therefore you are much more open to different points of view and ideas. In terms of your degree, you will see a different style of learning which in most cases is very very different to the UK so you can adapt study habits from your host country if you think they are good, as well as seeing how your friends from other countries do it. I realised how uptight the British education system is as we are obsessed with results and that's it, whereas in a lot of European countries people spend a good chunk of their lives at university and have no fixed schedule to finish it, which I think is better.

    The last thing I was thinking about during my year abroad was my degree. I didn't need to get a certain grade, all I had to do was pass and given I was doing Masters level courses in the host country which were easier than I did in my 1st year at university, it was very very easy. I have had a gap year and yes, in many respects one could call it a holiday as I did very little in an academic sense.... but in a general life sense, I did an awful lot. Being an exchange student somehow gives you lisence to do so many things you'd never normally dream of doing as you've just got the answer of "well we're erasmus!" to fall back on. I've done so many things which I never envisaged I'd do in my life in the last year, from randomly renting snowmobiles and driving 15 miles along the coast to have a sauna party instead of going to a class, to going to Croatia for a History students conferene despite having never studied history.... I don't know, you fit so much into one year which you'd never do at home because being on exchange is like being in your own world. Everything is displaced and doesnt make sense as you're living in a country where your main group of friends are from other countries, and no one has any connection to the host city other than you all randomly decided to move there for one year. And as everyone knows its only for a year it makes it all into this semi perminant state where you do every single little oppertunity which comes your way just because you can.

    I realised an awful lot about myself and how I am percieved when I was away, as in general, Europeans are much more blunt than the Brits and as in general you're never communicating in your native language (I spoke a lot of French and Spanish too) everything ends up being much more honest just for communications sake. I've become a lot more confident, as due to being one of the few native English speakers I constantly had to explain the ins and outs of the language so my confidence in myself to have the right answer rather than double checking it with someone else is now much better.... and I'd say I am just much more open to different ideas, people and thoughts. Now I've lived in a country where I don't speak the language, and had the best year of my life I feel as though I can go and do that again anywhere. I think these are the things which employers value as well, it says a hell of a lot about someone if they just up sticks from their life and go off to live in a random country for a year, which is essentially what all exchange students do.
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    a year abroad to somewhere where the course is taught in english (eg. helsinki, oslo) etc. sounds exciting, but you'll soon get homesick. there's no place like home, and i miss liverpool even when i just go on a short holiday. you'll miss your nights out with friends, and you'll miss your family, which doesn't help you during exam time. as you won't be with friends, you'll go a whole year without having a proper laugh, and you'll get easily bored.

    my dad doesn't recommend it, and i wouldn't consider it, mainly because i've got a loving family and fantastic friends.

    you'll graduate a year earlier if you don't waste time with a year abroad, and therefore start earning quicker
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    I'm on mine now for 09-10 and I'm really enjoying it. You don't have to go to a uni to study, and if you do you don't have to do everything related to your subject, you can pick new modules as long as they're in the target language. My friends are doing teaching assistanships and I'm on a work placement. I like my job because it means that I'm getting experience in the field of translation, picking up new skills and figuring out whether I wanna do it in the future or not. It's not supposed to be a holiday really. I think people that treat it as a holiday do worse off when they come back. The advantage of some unis is that they make you do a project whilst you're out there so that you're still working academically. I've gotta do one and whilst I know I'll hate it when I'm working, I think it's the best option.

    It's also a chance to learn about their culture and about your own. Some of my friends who've done theirs said they learnt to appreciate their own culture a lot more and find out about themselves. I think in response to chipchop92 saying it's a waste of time, it only is if you make it so. There's a reason for doing it after all.
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    Best. Thing. Ever.

    I was living in France on my gap year and although I wasn't technically on a Year Abroad, most of my friends were. For a start, the cities they offer are usually amazing, and obviously there are tons of other young people around. The ERASMUS/exchange societies at universities usually put on tons of events, where you can make new friends from across the world. You're living with new people and everyone's really keen to mingle.

    I'm not sure how worthwhile they are if you don't speak the local language though. It'll limit your ability to make friends, and it doesn't have the same wow factor for employers that you're multilingual. Most of the people I met on my gap year through friends at the university, the only language we had in common was French (since most ERASMUS students are there to practise their language skills, or are monolingual like you). It's a bit different if you go somewhere more obscure though, where few people speak the local language.

    EDIT: If you're only at A-level standard, you'll need to work very hard to maintain your French in the first two years of your degree. I went to France straight out of A-level and it made me realise how basic A-level language skills are. I was practically mute at first, A-level had prepared me so poorly for daily life. If you're going with that limitation AND you haven't spoken it for two years to boot, then you'll really struggle.
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    (Original post by chipchop92)
    a year abroad to somewhere where the course is taught in english (eg. helsinki, oslo) etc. sounds exciting, but you'll soon get homesick. there's no place like home, and i miss liverpool even when i just go on a short holiday. you'll miss your nights out with friends, and you'll miss your family, which doesn't help you during exam time. as you won't be with friends, you'll go a whole year without having a proper laugh, and you'll get easily bored.

    my dad doesn't recommend it, and i wouldn't consider it, mainly because i've got a loving family and fantastic friends.

    you'll graduate a year earlier if you don't waste time with a year abroad, and therefore start earning quicker
    Well yeah you miss people, I miss people, but the whole point is to meet new people rather than to just stick with what you know. It makes you go outside your comfort zone, opens your mind and shows you a different way of living and thinking which I think are very important. Also, like hell is it a waste of time. For some degrees like mine it's a requirement, for others you get access to world renowned departments and facilities (eg I have a friend on top of a mountain right now studying astrophysics in California) and the skills of living elsewhere ESPECIALLY in a foreign language are like no other experience you can get. Do one, OP.
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    My colleague at work is doing ok actually, and he doesn't speak any German. He's just bought one of those guides to learn the language and I think he'll have learnt a lot by December.

    Thatwhichiam- I totally agree with you. I had this feeling that I'd be too scared to go out and meet people and I might not push myself enough. But I had to and I've already been out, met people and been on the train. Now I've done it it's not so bad anymore and it makes me want to get out and about even more than I am.
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    (Original post by Lizia)
    Yes, but he'd be getting so much more out of the experience if he already spoke German. He might be "doing OK", but there's no denying that he's pretty limited when it comes to interacting with the locals and having a proper experience, not just being a tourist. A Year Abroad can still be really good fun without the local language, but it's a hundred times better when you can get to know the locals properly. Most foreigners speak English fairly well, but unless they're actually trying to improve their English, they'll lose interest pretty quickly.
    Yeah I know, I was just pointing out that I think it's a very brave idea to do something like that when you don't speak the language because of how you'll be at the end.
 
 
 
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