3rd year French & Spanish student at King’s College London currently in semester 2 of her year abroad.
Year Abroad Destinations:
Semester 1 – Studied at Aix-Marseille Université in Provence, France
Semester 2 – Studying at Universidad de Cádiz in Cádiz, Spain
1. What was your biggest fear regarding your Year Abroad before departure?
For me the biggest fear that I had before my year abroad was that I wouldn’t be able to speak the language well enough to get around, make friends and cope at university. I was afraid that this would leave me feeling very isolated and homesick, though incidentally the opposite was true and I didn’t want the year abroad to end!
2. Did you have expectations before you arrived, have those expectations been met?
Initially I expected that I wouldn’t enjoy France as much given its reputation for being rather pretentious and I expected life to be very quiet, and I thought being in Spain would be the more action packed semester. However, I found that it was the other way around! Although Cádiz wasn’t pretentious, life there is very slow and laid-back, though I thoroughly enjoyed both.
3. What FOUR places would you recommend to students to check out in Aix-en-Provence and Cádiz?
- Hiking at Montagne Sainte Victoire. Slightly outside of Aix but easily reachable by bus. One trail leads to the top of the 1101m mountain, a great activity for if you want to really challenge yourself!
- Les Calanques. A train ride away. A great spot to swim!
- The Old Town in Cádiz. A great mix of beautiful architecture and restaurants and bars.
- The beach! Cádiz has amazing sandy beaches.
4. Tell us about the most important lesson that you have learnt so far on your year abroad…
I have learnt to be a lot more patient and tolerant during my time abroad, particularly when dealing with admin and bureaucracy in France. On day one I went to enrol at the international office at university. I queued for over an hour, and when I finally got near the front of the line, the staff informed us that, although there were only 10 students remaining from the 100 before left to be seen, they were now going to be taking a 2-hour lunch break!
5. What are your THREE top tips for anyone considering a Year Abroad?
- Not everyday will be the best. It’s ok to have down days and bad experiences, it does not mean you failed.
- Remember that cultural differences are very real. Mostly this is a positive thing as you experience new ways of life, however sometimes attitudes, particularly towards race and religion, aren’t what you may be used to at home.
- Don’t be afraid to try. Whether its speaking the language with locals or trying a new activity, you are a lot more capable than you think.
“Experience, travel – these are as education in themselves” – Euripides
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