Now that I’ve settled back into university life at Sheffield, and am finally getting used to the cold and rainy English weather, I’ve had some time to reflect on my year abroad and of course reminisce about all of the amazing things that I did and saw. In brief, I spent my first semester studying in Bordeaux, France; second semester working at a school near Barcelona and then decided to prolong my stay in Spain by spending the summer working in Salamanca. My year abroad was a wonderful experience and I really would recommend the opportunity to anyone considering a placement abroad.
Whilst living abroad, one of the best ways to enjoy the local culture is to really immerse yourself into their way of life. During my time in Spain, I grew accustomed to the Spanish attitude and way of life, which, as I learnt, rather differs from us Brits in some areas. Here are just a few of my top tips on how to make the most of your time abroad, wherever it may be:
- Live like a local: changing my day-to-day habits was particularly relevant for me in Spain, as I discovered that the siesta is a real thing (yay, naps!) and they really do eat late and party until the early hours of the morning. Even though I probably won’t make a habit out of leaving pre-drinks for a night out at 4am, it certainly was an experience to remember. Sticking to your usual lifestyle might hold you back and mean missing out – so it’s much better to step a bit out of your comfort zone and make the most of a foreign lifestyle like a local!
- Try something new: whether this be food, drink, going along to a local festival or trying out a new activity, your time abroad is the best time to do it. However long your placement is, the time will absolutely fly by so don’t waste a single moment of it… there’s nothing worse than getting back and regretting not trying something, so go for it whilst you have the opportunity!
- Travel: make the most of your chance to travel whilst you’re abroad, particularly to places to which you would probably never make a special trip from home. From my experiences abroad, trains and buses were cheaper than in the UK, so I had excellent opportunities to check out some really cool Spanish towns and cities; some that I had never even heard of before!
- Meet new people: as a languages student, the main aim of my year was obviously to improve my spoken French and Spanish, so I tried to practise speaking as much as possible with natives and other international students. Even if you aren’t learning another language, speaking to people from different backgrounds and cultures gives you another perspective on life, and opens your eyes up to lifestyles and traditions that are different to those with which you’re familiar…. And if you’re lucky, you might gain a network of friends to visit all over the world!
I can’t stress enough how incredible the opportunity to work or study abroad is – although it might seem like a daunting prospect, it really is worth it. And besides, it will provide you with enough #tb Instagram material for at least a year when you get back… so what’s stopping you?