Read on to find out about some of our students’ study/work abroad experiences...
Christopher (Kit) Heeley – International Experience Year – University of North Carolina, Pembroke, America
Hey y’all! I’m Kit, I’m a fourth year student on a BA Linguistics and the English language degree (with international experience of course!) In my second year I decided to study abroad on the International Experience Year programme at the beginning of my third year, and ended up in the Native American college town of Pembroke, North Carolina, USA.
During my 11 months there, I studied local American dialects and language policy planning with specialisation in Native American languages – especially that of Lumbee English – a local tribe dialect. I also had the opportunity of travelling to Washington DC, the southern and totally charming city of Savannah, Georgia and many more across the east coast.
One of the more memorable and slightly ‘out there experiences’ was the fact that whilst in the US I both met and married my husband, who then studied at Bangor for a semester! Now I can’t guarantee you’ll find that soulmate and get married – but it’s a testament that you can never really guess what will happen in travelling and studying abroad!
I chose to study abroad primarily to refresh my enthusiasm for higher education, build a little confidence and prove to myself that I could push myself completely out of my comfort zone – it was hard at times, but you learnt how to cope and manage and still have an amazing time!
Doing such a scheme abroad pushed me, both professionally and personally and gave me a greater sense of understanding about the world and how my degree fits in to a broader perspective. It’s also helped with my dissertation ideas and future plans (I intend to become a permanent resident and start a life in the good old state of North Carolina with my partner, working hopefully in International Programs at a US university!)
In total, any abroad scheme that you hopefully choose to do will benefit you in at least one way – I guarantee it!
Aimee Boyd – International Experience Year – Deakin University, Australia
I’m Aimee and I went to Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia. I’m a Psychology student, but I applied to go abroad in my 1st year, so I ended up squeezing in an extra year into my degree between my 1st and second year.
I was really lucky, I had the freedom to choose what ever I wanted to do! I took this for granted and chose to study units in Australia History, Geography and Architecture, Politics and foreign Policy, Online Data Processing, Dance, Drama, Marine Biology and Health. Oh, and I did do one unit in Psychology! It was great to be able to study things I otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to, but it was also great to start to begin to understand how my subject area is different in different parts of the world and has given me a much greater understanding of my subject.
I’m surprised I had any time to study most of the time! I did heaps of extra things, from road trips down the Great Ocean Road, up the East Coast and through the Outback. I participated in residential Volunteer projects, working in native plant nurseries, helping to restore some of Australia’s first houses and Au Pairing with a variety of different families. I took regular weekend breaks to all sorts of different places – Adelaide and Coffs Harbor were some of my Favorites. I welcomed in the New Year by watching Fireworks on Sydney Harbor Bridge. I got (2!) Scuba Diving qualifications. I got in touch with my wild side and got up close and personal to fish, octopus, kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, dingoes, crocodiles, wombats, parrots, penguins and emus. I also got to live with some amazing people from all over the world. Amongst all the fun, I also got some of the best grades I have ever had at university!
Why did I decide to study abroad? Well, I guess I have always known I wanted to see the world. This seemed like a great way to do it. There was a time limit, so there was the motivation to get into gear and do it. I would get recognition in my degree from doing it, so it made it more appealing than backpacking later on in life.
There are so many benefits. It will be the most incredible time of your life. You learn so much about the world and realise it is actually quite a small place. What you learn will depend on what you do. Go out there and experience it! The benefits are more than you can possibly list, imagine and more than you will even know. I also came home with a great tan and an awesome Aussie accent. :D
Lucy Kitchen – Modern Languages Year Abroad – Santiago de Compostela University, Spain
Hi I’m Lucy and I’m a Spanish with Italian student. I spent my last year in Santiago de Compostela in Spain studying at the university there. This was part of my degree as my Year Abroad, though of course you can go abroad whatever you study! Santiago was an amazing city to live in, amazing people and so much history and culture. Though Spanish universities don’t have societies, there was the Erasmus Student Network, which put on loads of activities for the international students. I managed to travel a lot with them and see most of Spain! My favourite part of my year abroad would have to be Galicia itself, the region was simply beautiful and I miss it so much, I can’t wait to go back! My year abroad was already part of my degree but this is why I chose to do languages in the first place, as there was this amazing opportunity to travel. Now everyone has this option I would strongly recommend it! After my year out there I can see a big improvement in my language and also my confidence, and also I’ve gained many international friends which means more travelling in the future!
Kaylah de Jager – International Experience Year – Leiden University, the Netherlands
Hello, I am Kaylah and I study Zoology with Marine Zoology. I went on the Erasmus program to Leiden University in the Netherlands. While I was there, I was on an internship program where I looked at gene expression in the limbs of the Chinese Soft-shelled Turtle, which was amazing! Extra curricular, I joined the international students for many trips around the Netherlands and I did a lot of travel around Europe on my own which was a very liberating experience. My favourite bit definitely has to be how many cool people I met from all over the world and riding a bike everywhere around the Netherlands! I decided to go on the Erasmus program because it is such good life experience and the lessons I have learned this year are truly priceless. I have benefitted massively from going, I have a great network of work colleagues and have even been offered master project to go back too! All the skills I learnt last year, I am now able to use in my dissertation project, so it was definitely worth it!
Marielle Steinebach – International Experience Year – Victoria University, Australia
I’m Maz, studying Marine Biology. I did the International Experience Year, at Victoria University, Australia. I loved the fact that the International Experience Year allowed me to study things I am interested in outside of my degree (for example in my second semester I did Rock Climbing as a course!). I decided to study abroad as I thought it would be a lot of fun, and because it would be a different way of experiencing another country, as opposed to travelling through.
Living in a country as large as Australia, you absolutely have to travel! I did a couple of road trips, one with friends and one with strangers, and one in Tasmania. (Unfortunately I didn’t get up to Uluru, or the Barrier Reef.) It’s very hard to pinpoint one favourite bit of a year abroad; some my best bits were White Night in Melbourne, seeing Chet Faker in concert, a bike ride through Melbourne, watching an Aussie Rules match and meeting so many amazing people! I feel that I have benefitted academically as I’m fairly confident in essay writing. Personally, I think that in a group of people I can get talking to someone new fairly easily, and that I can do things that I set my mind to do.
Abbi Jarvis – Modern Languages Year Abroad – Alicante University, Spain & Nantes University, France
Bonjour, hola and ciao! My name is Abbi Jarvis and I am studying French and Spanish with Italian. Since I’m doing a Modern Languages degree a year abroad was compulsory for me, but I’m so glad that it was. I spent the first semester in Alicante, Spain, and the second in Nantes, France, studying at the respective universities. I can only describe my time abroad as phenomenal. I continued my language studies amongst native students who were all very welcoming and eager to get to know me. And when I wasn’t studying, I was taking part in many ESN (Erasmus Student Network) events such as socials, dinners and trips to other cities. Being part of ESN allowed me to meet students from all over the world, as far as Brazil, China and Vietnam! Meeting these people from completely different backgrounds was a truly humbling and enriching experience – I feel as if my opportunities have broadened, and now the world doesn’t seem so big and daunting.
As a languages student, my year abroad has without a doubt helped towards my degree. My confidence has grown in leaps and bounds, both in my language abilities and in myself. It has been the most challenging and rewarding experience of my life, and I would do it all again in a heartbeat!
Danielle Goody – Modern Languages Year Abroad – Bologna University, Italy
I’m Danielle and I’m studying History and Italian. Last year as part of my course I had the opportunity to study in Bologna in Italy for 9 months through the ERASMUS programme. Before I left for Italy I was really nervous as I didn’t think my language skills would hold up under pressure. Luckily I was wrong as the locals were all very friendly and my flatmates were so welcoming. Although it is a culture shock at first, you get used to it very quickly! I can honestly say that this was one of the greatest experiences I have had and I would recommend it to anyone. One of the best things about Bologna is that there are two organisations which offer lots of cultural opportunities and trips to exchange students, such as ice cream and wine tasting! I was also lucky enough to travel to loads of places in Italy like Pompei, the Cinque Terre and Verona. If you go to Verona you should go and see ‘Juliet’s House’, which was in memory of William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. Italians are very superstitious and believe that if you touch the right breast of Juliet’s statue you will be with your true love forever!
Wherever you decide to do your international experience I would recommend making the most of your time there by trying lots of new things and visiting as many places as possible as this may be the only chance you get to do it!
Ed Romeu – International Experience Year – Granada University, Spain
I’m Ed, a Psychology student that studied Psychology in Spanish in the beautiful South of Spain! I chose to study in Spain because I have family in the North of Spain but had never learnt Spanish or even attempted to, so I went out with the intentions of furthering my knowledge of Psychology, experiencing the culture in the heart of the birthplace of Flamenco, and to learn Spanish!
I was lucky enough to visit some amazing places in Spain including Barcelona, Cordoba, Ronda, Sevilla, Salobreña, and Almuñecar, and even the Sierra Nevada mountains. The ten months I spent abroad, I met some amazing people from all over the world which are now friends I will be visiting in the years to come, and have experienced living a Spanish way of life; siestas, fiestas until at least seven am, and being taught Psychology in a class of Spaniards.
The study abroad programme can also be a bit of a tough experience, but there is always support from both the host, and home universities! Plus, no matter were you go, there are international and/or ERASMUS student events such as ice-breaker sessions, language practice, and trips. Don’t forget, other exchange students are in the same position!
Charlotte Hampton – Summer Placement – Pukyong National University, South Korea
I’m Charlotte, a History/Criminology and Criminal Justice student and I spent just over three weeks at Pukyong National University in South Korea on their cultural exchange programme! I knew I wanted to study abroad even before I came to university and Bangor’s variety of choice for doing so definitely helped bump it to the top of my list. I decided to apply as I felt that going abroad would add to my university experience and broaden my personal horizons – and it certainly did!
While I was in South Korea I had a mix of academic and extra-curricular activities. From 9am-12pm I took a class called ‘Understanding Korean Culture’ where we learnt about everything Korean (from the language to economics to sports). Most afternoons we would participate in extra-curricular activities, this ranged from cooking, trying on traditional Korean clothing (Hanbok), and even attending a baseball match of a local team. One weekend we even stopped in a temple to experience the life of a monk!
It’s really hard to choose a favourite part of my study abroad experience because every day something new was happening and I was able to do something that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to do so at home. I have benefitted in so many ways from studying abroad especially personally and academically. Travelling to the other side of the world alone was scary (especially when the plane I was on had to turn back because according to one of the flight attendants it was “a little broken”!) but it has definitely improved my confidence and independence. Academically, I was able to learn about things that I would never have known had I never studied abroad! The experience was once in a life time!
Alice Higgins – International Experience Year – Salamanca University, Spain
Hola! I’m Alice, a Spanish and German student and I just spent the last year doing an international experience year in Salamanca, Spain. In Bangor, modern languages degrees include an obligatory year abroad, but because I’ve added “with International Experience” to my degree, this means that I still get to do my compulsory year abroad for the modern languages – therefore I get to do TWO years abroad!
I found adding a year abroad between first and second year fantastic for practicing my Spanish, and now back in Bangor, it gives me chance to focus more on German and not have to worry about Spanish so much.
I spent the last year living and studying in Salamanca, Spain – a beautiful city in inland Spain with the oldest university in Spain and the fourth oldest in Europe. Whilst out there, I studied Spanish language and literature, German, French, Italian, Galician, Latin and history! – slightly confusing and optimistic on my part, especially as they were all taught via Spanish, but I pursued them all and found them worthwhile, and this has helped me overcome some difficulties I had with Spanish itself.
As it was an international experience year, not being able to speak the language of the country isn’t important, so don’t feel pressured to go to countries that speak English – most universities provide supplementary language classes to help you and all teachers and students are very sympathetic and understanding if you’re having problems with the language.
I found this year one of the best of my entire life – I met so many fantastic new friends from all over the world – a beneficial attribute if you’re also an eager traveller, free accommodation and tour guides globally is welcomed! I learnt a lot about myself, massively improved my confidence and social skills, as well as being hugely beneficial to my degree back in Bangor!
I was able to spend my weekends traveling and managed to get all over Spain to Barcelona, Madrid, Sevilla, Santiago de Compostela, among many more, and even weekend getaways to Portugal and Morocco!
Paul Cockburn – International Experience Year – Pace University, New York, America
For me, no place has ever seemed so familiar so soon; and still so unfathomably, loveably alien as New York City.
New York was the city I called home for nine months studying at Pace University through Bangor. Pace is nestled in the financial district of Lower-Manhattan. It truly felt like home and, for a part of me – it always will. Don’t let anybody tell you that New Yorkers are rude or the city is crowded – because you’ll find a quiet space if you’re willing to look (and smart enough to avoid Midtown). Noise isn’t always loud – sirens aren’t prevalent and the streets are reassuringly un-mean. In New York, the city is your apartment – take brunch and a walk along the high-line – stroll down Broadway to grab a $1 pizza-slice (accept that you’ll eat a lot of pizza) – jostle past gaggles of wide-eyed tourists when you’re late for class – and learn to hate them.
Living just-off the Brooklyn side the infamous bridge, one subway stop out of Wall Street – commuting to Lower-Manhattan daily – never caught up with me; never stopped feeling like a movie.
I lived in EHS (Educational Housing Services) in a building directly on top of Clark Street subway station and definitely recommend looking at their accommodation. Living in Brooklyn Heights affords you a chance to get out of Manhattan while still being in walking distance – and, perhaps more importantly, gives you a chance to appreciate the skyline.
With an ‘International Experience Year’ I was able to use the year to explore areas outside of my degree. In the second semester I took a class called ‘Current Theater in NY’ which involved watching Broadway and Off-Broadway shows bi-weekly – but Pace offers a fairly wide variety of classes (although the business and theater schools are probably the best).
Some folks like to get away and I was able to spend a week vacationing in Vermont over the winter break (that’s me looking disgustingly cold in my picture ^ ) – but once you touch down state-side the country opens up to you and interstate travel is surprisingly cheap and easy.
Oh – 61st and Lexington. Write it down. 24-hour Cupcake ATM. That alone is reason enough.
Lucinda Green – International Experience Year – Korea University, South Korea
Hi! I’m Lucy and I’m studying Marine Biology/Zoology. I did an international experience year in South Korea at Korea University Sejong Campus. Because it was an international experience year I could choose any subjects that interested me, rather than just ones related to my course at Bangor. Because of this I took a few politics classes studying North Korea which I would never have been able to do anywhere else.
Going to Korea University I was a member of the International Town at Sejong (ITS), a community of international students and Korean students looking to improve their English. Being a part of ITS was a great way to meet friends as there were loads of ITS activities (field trips, parties, clubs) to take part in. I also got two Korean roommates who were incredible, it was really nice to have Korean roommates to help me and guide me around when I didn’t know the country or university very well.
South Korea is an amazing country with loads to see and do; I travelled down to Busan, the second biggest city in South Korea and went paddling in the sea. I visited Seoul most weekends and spent a lot of time in Hongdae, the liveliest district in Seoul (with the most students, clubs and bars!), I went out once or twice in Gangnam (ridiculously expensive, but worth it), and wandered around Itaewon (which is packed full of restaurants). My favourite excursion in South Korea was when I took a trip to the DMZ to have a peek at North Korea, one of the most secretive countries in the world.
I completely recommend taking a year abroad, the year was one of the best in my life, and I’ve made so many friends from all around the world and had so many amazing experiences!