TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR TIME ABROAD
I went to Charles University in Prague in the Czech Republic. My home university is Aberystwyth University where I study joint History and English. Originally I was only going for the winter semester, but I decided to extend it, so I ended up doing a whole year abroad. Doing it wasn’t obligatory, it was purely optional and I was only one of few people who actually did. Also it counted as my second year, so the marks I got there are counting towards my final degree mark.
I kept to the same degree plan as I did in Aberystwyth; which was good as I got to study English Literature and History subjects that I would never be able to do at home. Thankfully, all of the classes were in English, but it was a weird experience being in an English Literature class, and being the only native English speaker. There were some language problems, and I wasn’t able to take extra language courses; however as I’d learned some Czech before I went it wasn’t too bad, and I could do better than a lot of people. The university itself has an interesting history, dating from the 14th century and the Faculty of Arts, where I was based, could count some of the most famous Czechs in history as its former students.
WHAT DID YOU DO IN YOUR FREE TIME?
Outside of class, I went sightseeing around Prague as much as I could. I also went on trips into the area around Prague in the Bohemian countryside and travelled to Hungary, Poland, Austria, and Slovakia. I went to the opera often, as it was cheap and they had the classics there on constant repeat. Whilst studying at the university I was also a journalist for their online student newspaper, the iForum, which was great fun. I interviewed academics, attended conferences, went to an event attended by the head of the U.N, and delved into the university archives and held the dissertations of some of the most famous Czech and Slovak leaders in history!
HOW HAS YOUR TIME ABROAD BENEFITED YOU?
I feel that I am more outgoing and much more confident in planning things; I have much less fear of travelling alone in foreign, unfamiliar lands now, and am more likely to use my initiative. It also made me want to explore Europe more and to travel more in general. I have no problem with being a nomad now! I’m also more determined than ever to learn more languages, and also to maintain and practise the second language I already have (Welsh). My work for the iForum also made me want to consider a career in journalism, whilst the experience in general made me want to find work abroad. I’ve also brought back a couple of ideas from Charles University and I am trying to implement them at Aberystwyth. I also want to get more people in my department to do Erasmus!
I believe I’ve improved some of my soft skills; especially with regards to communication: dealing with non-native English speakers means that you have to be more patient and much more attentive, which I found was the general experience when dealing with anyone and anything in Prague. Also, for a career in journalism, doing journalism work abroad is valuable experience, whilst studying abroad for a year is going to look good on any CV. You learn a lot of new skills, or improve ones that you already have, and also mixing with people from different countries in a foreign land may seem like a baptism of fire, but it’s an experience that leads to personal growth.
WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY TO STUDENTS THINKING OF STUDYING ABROAD?
It was possibly the wisest decision I have ever made in my entire life, definitely the best one so far. You get the unrivalled opportunity to fully explore another country, and when will you get that opportunity again? It gives you and your CV a boost and will arguably be the best and most memorable part of anyone’s time in university.
Want to spend a semester or year abroad? Check out the Erasmus+ Study Abroad programme!