Friday, June 21Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Year Abroad Experiences

Beau Hailey

Societies and student tours aren’t the only way to travel at university- all students have the possibility to take an international, language, or placement year during their studies. (Find out more here!) Here are the experiences of two students that spent last year abroad, one working on a language year, and another studying on an international year.

Jordan: I spent my time abroad in Italy, in a Northern Italian town very close to Milan called Pavia. I worked as a web designer and social media editor for the University of Pavia’s international office, working in both English and Italian, which was great for my language skills as I was constantly translating between the two. I was able to get experience using Italian in both formal contexts as well as daily informal interactions with friends. 

For accommodation, I chose to live in a shared flat which I found on Facebook- it was fairly stressful to sort out, but I got to live with some very interesting people. In terms of meeting people, most of the friends I made weren’t actually Italian but from all around the world. I met most of them from getting involved with the local ESN (Erasmus Student Network) branch, who host events and trips for international students. 

It’s hard to choose my favourite part about living in Italy- Italian culture is present in every part of life which I love, from getting a coffee to traditional festivals- it’s impossible to not immerse yourself in it. It was amazing to be able to travel pretty much constantly when I wasn’t working; the lesson I took away is definitely to explore more, whether internationally or in your local area. I loved my time abroad and hope to be travelling again as soon as possible!

Francesca: I spent my international year in Denmark studying at the University of Copenhagen. Since my course at uni here is Liberal Arts, during my study abroad I was able to pick and choose from a large variety of humanities modules. My modules were mainly focused around Danish Culture courses, such as Nordic Mythology and Danish Architecture and Urban Design. In terms of structure classes were quite similar in Copenhagen, but I found myself having less contact hours a week but being expected to do slightly more independent work. 

Throughout my stay I lived in a student accommodation next to the southern campus where my classes were based. This accommodation was shared primarily with Danish students, to each flat of 13 people there were only 2 international students, which provided a really nice mix and allowed me to immerse myself in Danish culture much more than other accommodations. There was also a very large emphasis on being sociable and community spirit, which really sped up the whole process of settling in a new country. As this was an international year abroad as opposed to a language year, my modules were all taught in english. However, I did manage to pick up bits and bobs of the Danish language useful for day to day life. 

My favourite parts of the year were probably just based around the friendships I made in my accommodation and the things we got up to in the city. It was an unbelievably fantastic year and I can’t wait to hopefully move back there in the future!

If you’re not already on a year abroad pathway and would like to explore the option, speak to your personal tutor, and chat to people who’ve already done one!