Just a little something I wrote for The Boar.
Ah, final year. The brutal reminder that University isn’t quite the time of your life that you were once promised as a fresher.
You may be one of the lucky few, rejoicing in the fact that you have finally received your grad offer/masters placement. However, the majority of your year are freaking out as they have no clue where they are going, what they are going to do, and are essentially counting down the days they have until they’ll be disowned by their families.
And me? Where am I? I’m currently hiding behind my year abroad. Paris certainly makes it easier for me not to panic about my lack of ‘future’. That is not to say that I’m not reflecting, however. While I do enjoy my regular pain au chocolat and strolls along the Seine, I have been in two minds as to whether this year abroad will benefit me in the long term. Of course, everyone tells me it will. But, I can’t completely believe it. Will I be subjected to the same horror that my final year friends are currently experiencing? Or will I sail through the process of job apps, simply because of my year-long Parisian nap?
Regardless of whether you are interning or studying; using a foreign language or studying in English; being examined regularly or only having to write a journal about your year – your year abroad will make you stand out. You could’ve just taken three years in the UK, but instead, you have separated yourself from your course mates, and now are no longer just another ‘2:1 candidate’ – you are something more.
Will I be subjected to the same horror that my final year friends are currently experiencing? Or will I sail through the process of job apps, simply because of my year-long Parisian nap?
Petra Tang, currently on her year abroad in Utrecht says: “Spending a year in a foreign country forced me to move out of my comfort zone. I learned to quickly adapt to situations and became more independent. No one is going to sort things out for us unless we take initiative. I think my year abroad friends and I have all matured and grown through this experience.”
Undoubtedly, a year abroad shows you are adaptable, confident and independent. With this, you can always refer to your unique experience in interview questions. A time when you overcame a challenge? “When my one-bedroom apartment in Paris flooded and left me homeless…”definitely sounds like more of a challenge than “I managed to complete all 5 essays due in for the same deadline in second year”.
Yuki Kojima, a student from Waseda University, spent her year abroad studying at Warwick in 2014, and has recently secured her grad job. “It definitely helped when I did interviews with companies, especially since I was aiming for companies that are successful globally. They were looking for candidates who are adaptable to changing environments, and who aren’t afraid to do something new.”
Undoubtedly, a year abroad shows you are adaptable, confident and independent
And if these benefits aren’t enough, you also have a nice additional ‘cushion’ year, in which you can gain more experience before facing those nasty applications as a finalist.
So all in all, it seems like your year abroad isn’t just a year-long party and last minute language tests – you are actually gaining some pretty invaluable skills. A year abroad won’t automatically open doors for you, but it could mean you have more of a chance of getting at least one foot in those doors.
Ultimately, it all comes down to how well you can sell yourself. Your year abroad isn’t just a fond memory – it has the potential to be so much more.