13 April 2016

5 Reasons to Take a Year Abroad as Part of Your Degree

Why are you in Barcelona? Are you working or studying? Is Spanish hard for you? I get asked a ton of questions on a daily basis about my year abroad, both from fellow students or interns and adults who are wondering what on earth my life abroad is like and why, why, why did I choose to do it?
Well, I thought I would answer this question in different points (the reasons are actually infinite) and maybe give you an extra push if you're currently indecisive between spending next year or term in your home university and abroad.

You're very likely to be asking yourself whether you should keep walking along the same old buildings of your college that you already know perfectly well, swimming in the security of your comfort zone, or getting a new, scary routine in an unknown place where you don't have family or friends, but that will change your life in an amazing way. To me, the answer would go without saying: go abroad! Getting out of home will make you question your beliefs and prejudices, become a stronger, more independent person, meet new people that are different from you and find out more about the world.

Here are some reasons why I think that taking a year abroad as a part of your degree will change you for the best:

1 - It's super exciting!
Yes, my first point is as simple as that. Everything about leaving home, embracing a new culture, an amazing place (I guess you'll be aiming at a nice spot?), making new and international friends, learn new languages sounds and is incredible! From buying your plane ticket to your YA destination to moving into a new flat and meeting new people is so much fun. I perfectly know how scary it can be, but that's a feeling everyone got before leaving and that once you are in the new place will wear off. There is a high chance that you'll also get lots of low moments of indecision, I'm not gonna lie. But that's fine, because they are what's making you grow up and get stronger. Most of the time you'll very likely be having fun!
Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias in Valencia, a key spot during my first teaching block abroad

2 - Your degree will be a lot more than a mere academic experience
The university years are a time of our life when we are supposed to grow up the most. It's almost as hard as being a child again and having to learn everything from scratch. Basically, a year abroad would give you skills that being in a classroom never would. From moving out, to finding flats, cooking for yourself, washing your clothes and so on, you have to take in so much new information! I am aware that in many countries these steps aren't linked to starting university, so if you take a year abroad you will have the opportunity to learn these for the first time!

3 - It will impress your employers
When in an interview your possible future employer asks you what you have learnt do to throughout your university years, you won't just be able to say 'write an essay' or 'pass end of term exams', but also that you can stand on your own feet, know other cultures and hence how to work with international colleagues, be open to the world and so on. Surely these won't just be facts but elements that transpire from your confident attitude.

4 - You will learn more about other cultures (including the language, food and international friends!)
Thanks to this awesome experience (and maybe extra bits of travelling), you will be able to taste different foods, practice the language you're learning, or maybe learn basic phrases if you're only planning to use English, and most of all... make international friends! That's the best bit if you ask me, as many of those friends might end up being life long ones. 

5 - You will learn to face your fears and gain confidence
I completely understand that going abroad can be one of the scariest things to do, especially if you're doing it by yourself and not as part of a short holiday. However, keep in mind that you won't be alone. Other students or interns will be there with your during your journey, and they'll most likely have had the same feelings before leaving.
Once you have made the big step of leaving your home country, why not trying more, like travelling with your friends or venturing into other new activities? This will make you much more self-confident! And you might also be able to understand what your real interests are, and what you want from your future career and life overall.

The first picture was taken by my friend Emilia. Find more of her pictures on her Flickr profile by clicking here!


  1. I think if you have the opportunity to go away for school - DO IT! It'd be an amazing experience, just like all the reasons you listed. Not only will you be learning academically - but you'll gain SO much experience, culture and insight...and I believe that is of a ton of value. Spain looks so beautiful :) It's one of my friend's favourite places (he lived there for a year on a work visa and loved it).

    -Lor //

    1. Personally, I think that Spain is one of the best places you could take a year abroad in. Everyone loves it! The food, the people and the weather are incredible. But taking a year abroad ANYWHERE is a great experience! :)