Category Archives: Placements Abroad

Working abroad can change your life (+placement opportunity!)

Ana Carrasco, a former Aston Student and Head of Customer Services at Seville’s new business centre, ‘iSspaces’ talks us through the following:

  • An opportunity for you to undertake a 4-6 month placement at iSspaces
  • The benefits of working abroad
  • How the Spanish city of Seville could be the perfect destination for your placement.

An opportunity for you

iSspaces is a beautiful new business centre based out of Seville which, aside from renting office space to growing businesses and entrepreneurs, has created and fostered a community of like-minded business people through its events and hospitality.

The obvious benefit for these business owners, aside from a state-of-the-art office space, is that they have endless opportunities to network, all of them working in and sharing the same building.

iSspaces regularly hold events and functions for some of the most famous brands across Seville and Spain; a case in point being a Google for Education event only weeks ago, which brought together teachers from across Andalusia for talks with Google employees about advancing classroom technology.

Students are invited to apply for the placement position of Customer Service Assistant Manager at iSspaces. If you’re a multi-talented individual who understands good design, can negotiate with providers, enjoys events, has an excellent eye for detail, and can deal with people in both English and Spanish, this could be the opportunity for you.

Full details of this placement role are on Aston Futures, REF 762X or you can view it here. You can also contact Ana Indi Amona from the International Placements Team at a.indi-amona@aston.ac.uk

Find out more about iSspaces here.

 

 The benefits of working abroad

Choosing to work in a different country gives you the opportunity to improve your language skills.

My arrival at Aston University was both exciting and worrisome. I remember I had to communicate using hand gestures, and it was difficult to follow conversations.

Luckily, I was at the most open-minded, internationally-friendly university ever, and I quickly found that people were willing to spend plenty of time and effort helping me to improve, both academically and personally.

I have to thank Aston University for helping me reach my goal of being bilingual, for professional advancement, and for being aware that a multicultural environment is the key to success.

It goes without saying that learning English has had an amazing impact on my life. It opened up many new opportunities for interaction with people I wouldn’t have otherwise spoken to.

The people I met at Aston have stayed with me throughout my life, both personally and professionally. I was lucky enough to meet my partner at Aston and we now have a bilingual son, and I have also done business with those contacts I made back in Birmingham.

My life has been enriched by my stay abroad, in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined before the experience.

Seville as a placement destination

Seville is home to some of the most beautiful architecture in the world, significantly influenced by three North-African dynasties from the 8th to the 13th centuries. It’s a city rich in culture, with lots of fantastic events throughout the year.

It’s not hard to remember to enjoy yourself in Seville, we expect to work hard and play hard. Los Sevillanos here in the south are fiercely proud of their city and their reputation as the social elite of Spain.

The gastronomy and entertainment is second to none, with a booming nightlife and social scene be it indoors or out, as you can make the most of the late daylight hours and warm nights.

Couple this with the fact that the south is significantly cheaper than the north, and Spain cheaper than other European destinations, you’ll quickly find that your Erasmus grants stretch a long way.

Splitting my placement year between Sweden and Tanzania

Jennifer Akussah is currently studying Economics and Management here at Aston. Last year, she did a split placement between Stockholm University, Sweden and International School Moshi, Tanzania. Read on to find out more about her placement experience…

What did the work on your placement involve?

I was an exchange student in Sweden and I also volunteered for six months in Tanzania at International School Moshi where I was the Activities Coordinator for the primary school boarders. My responsibilities were to ensure that the children had weekend activities that were fun, creative and educational. I also assisted them with their homework and was active in the primary department during school hours where I helped during lessons.

What skills did you develop during your placement?

I developed so many skills from doing a split placement: I became more confident and a risk taker, I got to learn two different languages – Swahili and the Swedish language – and I definitely developed my communication and leadership skills.

What was the highlight of your placement?

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania which had been on my bucket list for years. Also meeting and networking with so many exchange students at Stockholm University – I got to travel with them and learnt so much from getting to know different cultures.

How did you secure your placement? 

I was religiously on Aston Futures looking for opportunities abroad. I also received a lot of help from the placements team with my CV and applications and I am so grateful to them for the support before and during both placements.

Has doing an overseas placement helped or changed your plans?

It definitely has. My career goals have changed immensely because I got to study some specific modules at Stockholm University which I would not have explored if I had not taken a placement year. Also volunteering in Tanzania made me realise how much of an impact I can have on society and vice versa.

What advice would you give to other students thinking about doing a placement abroad?

Go for it. It looks good on your CV and gives lots to talk about during interviews. You also get to travel and meet so many incredible people and build long-lasting friendships.

What tips would you give to other students to help them make the most out of their placement?

Enjoy it. Live in the moment. It’s one year that you get to explore. Culture shock is totally normal. And if you ever need help with anything, Aston has got your back. You’ve got your placement tutor and the placement team to assist you during an adventure of a lifetime.

Placements are yours for the taking. So seize the opportunity.

Has Jennifer’s experience inspired you to undertake a placement abroad? Find out more about international placements, visit Aston Futures to search available opportunities or chat to us about your options. 

My placement year as a Digital Marketing Intern in Spain

Shashi Lallu is currently working towards a Sociology BSc degree. Last year he completed an international placement in Madrid, Spain where he worked as a Digital Marketing Intern for King’s Group. Find out more about his placement experience here…

What did the work on your placement involve?

The work on my placement involved website development and support, social media content creation and management, market research, email marketing, digital design and event management.

What skills did you develop during your placement?

The skills I developed include attention to detail and various specific skills including using the website creation tool WordPress, social media tools like Hootsuite, the email marketing tool MailChimp, Adobe Photoshop and InDesign, and Power Editor for Social Media ads. I also learnt the importance of meeting targets and the value of keeping calm during stressful situations.

What was the highlight of your placement?

The highlight of my placement was receiving the Employee of the Month Award for my work on a new website for a sub group of the company.

Has doing an overseas placement helped or changed your plans for the future?

It’s definitely helped me for the future in the sense that I know that I can push myself and achieve a lot regardless of where I work in the world. I also think it’s made me more employable due to the fact I was willing to go abroad for work, which shows a degree of commitment and readiness for adaptation.

What advice would you give to other students thinking about doing a placement abroad?

I would recommend it 100% and would urge people to go abroad. I wasn’t sure beforehand, but I didn’t even know any Spanish when I arrived in Madrid, so if I can do it and have a great year, then they can too.

What tips would you give to other students to help them make the most out of their placement?

I would tell them to meet as many people as possible and visit as many places they can whilst abroad to make the experience unforgettable.

Do you have any other comments you would like to add?

Not only did I have a great time working on my placement, but I’ve also made great friends from the experience, and I would do it again if ever given the opportunity.

Has Shashi’s experience inspired you to undertake a placement abroad? Find out more about international placements, visit Aston Futures to search available opportunities or chat to us about your options. 

My placement at Stockholm Business School

Jordan Wrigley is currently studying Economics and Management here at Aston. Last year, he undertook a study placement at Stockholm Business School in Sweden. Here he talks to us about his placement experience…

What did the work on your placement involve?

I was on a study placement, so the work wasn’t too different to what I was used to at Aston. Exams, essays, group work: the placement functioned much the same as a year at Aston would, but was structured differently – with modules taking place one at a time, a month each – and with many more opportunities for language study and picking modules outside of my usual area of study, such as Fashion and Psychology.

What skills did you develop during your placement?

Multiculturalism – Being an international student meant I met people from all around the world, rather than just the local Swedes. I learned how to communicate with people from other countries, in a place where English isn’t a requirement, and had ample opportunity to learn about fellow students’ home countries.

Languages – Learning a language is great, but there’s so much more development when you use it outside of a classroom. Being able to develop Swedish day to day, and French with the other international students was amazing. I learned more of a language in a month than I would do in a year back in the UK with a textbook.

Timekeeping – Juggling university and a part-time job in the UK can be a challenge, but when you’re also wanting to see everything the new country has to offer, you have to learn how and when to fit sightseeing trips into your schedule.

What was the highlight of your placement?

Being mistaken for a Swede was the highlight outside of studying! Knowing that I’d adapted to the language and culture so well that I could be mistaken for a local was overwhelming; I felt like I belonged there.

In terms of the placement itself, being able to study something so different was a real highlight. As much as I enjoy Economics, after four years of studying it, it was amazing to branch out and learn about topics I’d never have been able to consider on my degree otherwise.

How did you secure your placement?

As with all study placements, I applied through Aston Futures with my CV and a cover letter, and went to an interview with Aston’s international placements team.

Has doing an overseas placement helped or changed your plans for the future?

Living outside the UK was always something I’d considered, but was never sure if it was really something I could do. After a placement overseas I saw the benefits of living outside the UK, and I found a culture that I could embrace and be a part of. My goal now is to move to Sweden permanently!

What advice would you give to other students thinking about doing a placement abroad?

Do it! There’s no other time in your life when you can live in another country without the risks. Aston supports you the whole way, and you have your home country and home university to fall back on at the end of the placement. Don’t wait until you’re locked into a job, a family, or a home in the UK and find yourself unable to try life elsewhere in the world – do it now!

What tips would you give to other students to help them make the most out of their placement?

A year goes by so much faster than you think, especially when you’re working/studying most of the time. It’s not a holiday where you can take a week out to visit somewhere nice. Plan ahead, and make sure you know everything you want to do while you’re out there, and fit it around your work/study.

At the same time, don’t treat your placement as just a year that you have to do: throw yourself into it and work on improving yourself in every way that pops up. Your placement year is the year to do things you’d never do otherwise, so use the time wisely!

Make sure you’re also prepared for the climate of wherever you’re going. So many of the other international students were surprised and complaining when Stockholm had four months of snow. Plan ahead!

Has Jordan’s experience inspired you to undertake a placement abroad? Find out more about international placements, visit Aston Futures to search available opportunities or chat to us about your options. 

Some Retrospection…

It’s now been over a month since I finished my placement with AirFrance and left Toulouse, so I have had some time to reflect on the quickest three months of my life!

A pic of my office from the first day

I was working in the Air France’s IT department across two sites, delivering English conversation classes to the staff.

The job itself entailed scheduling, planning and running hour-long conversation classes on different topics each week- usually articles or videos on topics from that week’s news.

For me, the people definitely made the job. Everyone was so fun to teach- the lessons are voluntary, so all the students are under no obligation to be there, they come because they want to learn. They were all so enthusiastic and it was fascinating to speak to everyone and hear their opinions and experiences.

One challenge of the job was thinking of original themes for each class which would be interesting and valuable for the students, as well as being adaptable to different levels of English speakers.

The only downside of the role is the almost exclusive speaking of English. Admittedly there were opportunities to speak French which I didn’t always exploit, such as with the other Aston intern, but after three months there I must say I was anxious about how little I felt my French had improved. Of course the experience has been valuable in many other ways, namely learning how to be a ~functioning adult~ working a full-time job and (mostly) coping with living alone. Another thing I’m grateful I learned from the job is the ability to be able to talk spontaneously in a professional environment with people much more senior to me whom I don’t know.

Overall the environment was so nurturing, and everyone was more than willing to help with any problems. It’s a scary thing to move to another country, start a new job and speak to all these new people, but as soon as I started, a lot of my students said that they in fact had children my age and would look after me should I ever need it.

All in all the people were wonderful, the job was fun and I’ve come away feeling like I experienced and learned a lot.

And a pic from when I was walking out on the last day

Of course, the highlight of the stay was being able to call such a gorgeous city home. More on this next time.  

A la prochaine,

J

The whos, whats, wheres, whens and whys…

Here goes a post to cover some of the practicalities of moving abroad to do a placement for a year, from the big things like finding somewhere to live, down to remembering to bring plug adaptors.

Accommodation

Originally the other intern and I had planned to live together, either just the two of us or with other students. For flatshares, we got told some sites to consult: leboncoin, appartager, housinganywhere, and some sites to avoid. In theory it seemed simple enough- we both needed to be in a similar area and had a similar budget in mind, however after many solid days of trailing through these sites we had still found nothing. For me the next logical step was to phone estate agencies in Toulouse and ask directly if they had any properties. This in fact proved very time consuming and everyone I spoke to (in my best very polite French) were unwilling to help. Another friend in Toulouse found this to be the case too- they don’t really cater to students, many only do rentals for a year or longer. The ones who were willing to help wanted enormous deposits- 9000€ for a three-month let, which of course had to be from a French bank account.

Thus, a dilemma was born. Paying for accommodation required a French bank account but acquiring a French bank account required a proof of a French address- I couldn’t get one without the other. (See: banking fiasco).

It seemed the only remaining solution was for us to split up and find separate living arrangements. I then resorted to Airbnb, feeling fresh out of other options. I booked flights to Toulouse, made appointments to visit several promising-looking Airbnb properties and went for a weekend-long property search. I eventually found a studio flat in a really nice area, visited it and booked it on the same day. Of course, another advantage of Airbnb is the security in terms of paying rent and deposits, and the fact that you don’t need a local bank account to pay.

Retrospectively, I can say up to this point all has gone well with the logistics of accommodation and would recommend using Airbnb for year abroad accommodation to anyone. In the three-month period I only hit one problem: the night before I was due to move out (how typical)- my flat was burgled. Other than this one-off, the rest of the stay was fantastic.

One thing I did learn is the importance of viewing the properties beforehand if you can. This does seem strange for Airbnb, but when I explained I would be staying for three months, most people were more than happy to show me round, and those who couldn’t kindly gave me the street address, so I could visit the area. This is not only to ensure the property does actually exist, but to get a feel for the area and to see what your journey to work will be like.

Bank

If you’re lucky enough to be doing a paid placement it is common to find that the receiving business will only pay into a local bank account, or if your placement is unpaid a local bank account is still the best way to avoid hefty conversion fees which can mount up if you use an English bank account overseas. This can be a tricky process.

In most banks it’s necessary to book an appointment in advance and take the following documentation with you:

Identification

Birth certificate

Convention de stage

Attestation d’herbegement (signed statement from your landlord to confirm you live with them)

Copy of your landlord’s identification

Proof that your landlord owns the address

After looking into this process and the previously-mentioned catch-22 situation regarding needing a local address, I opted to open account with Credit Agricole’s English speaking service Britline. All the registration is done online, with just a phone call to discuss what services you need, and you can receive all your documentation and cards etc to an English address before you go. So far I can’t fault the service and have found reassuring to know that if I experience any disasters that I can contact them in English.

Another product which came in handy at the start of my placement before my Britline account was set up was a Caxton card. Essentially the same as any foreign exchange card, you can top up the Caxton using a mobile app and convert into any currency you want. The charges are not bad and in some cases you can even get paid into your Caxton account as well. Another bonus is the super-simple registration process and small amount of documentation needed. The Caxton would be a great solution for anyone travelling, not only for stagiaires.

Insurance

Although your workplace and the university should definitely have you covered by insurance for your time away (of course check this), I decided to take out some insurance which would cover my phone, laptop, camera, debit cards, etc while I was away, as well as covering myself in case of illness, and which would insure me and my belongings for any other travelling in Europe during my year abroad. For this I used Endsleigh, who specialise in student insurance, and their Study Abroad Insurance. The policy I opted for was super cheap but covered everything I needed and thus far has been relatively stress-free, which is more than can be said about some other aspects of the move.

Paperwork

One really useful piece of advice I received was to make scans, photocopies and printouts of everything- especially as I had no access to a printer before starting work. This includes copies and scans of your convention de stage, passport, birth certificate, student card etc. As well as this, a set of passport photos was invaluable- I needed one handy as soon as I landed in Toulouse to buy a travel card and since then have got through another four for various bits and bobs.

Potentially forgotten things

  • Plug adaptors
  • Check if your accommodation includes bedding/ towels

I hope at least some of the above advice has been helpful, even if much of it is the same advice which has been repeated by everyone you mention your placement year to.

As always, get in touch if I can be of any help, and I’d love to hear other people’s experiences.

A la prochaine,

J

My placement experience at Stanley Black & Decker

Hi guys, my name is Ryan Ball. I am now 7 months into my 13-month placement at Stanley Black & Decker and so far, it has been a valuable experience.

The first month was a crossover month; the old and the new intern undertake a transition period. I was taught by another Aston student from the previous year, this was useful to learn the tasks I would be undertaking throughout the year and made the start of the placement much less daunting. This was also a great month outside of work as there was a large group of us that could get together after work and on weekends to go and check out the neighbouring cities and see what Idstein (where I am living) had to offer. After this month, I felt well prepared to be able to handle the role on my own and I was less anxious speaking German to my colleagues. My team understood that I would struggle at certain points and let me sneak in the odd English word if I couldn’t articulate what I wanted to in German which was helpful to begin with! 

I’m the intern for the ‘Brand and Communication’ team, which means I get to complete tasks involving all brands under the Stanley Black & Decker conglomerate including Black+Decker, Bostitch, DEWALT, Facom, Irwin, Lenox and Stanley. My team are responsible for the development and distribution of POS materials, catalogues for each brand, managing merchandise/giveaways and conceptualising and organising company events. My line manager is responsible for events, so some of my work includes helping her to prepare for them. For example, I create preparatory documents for each event known as ‘Dispos’ that include information about our stand, a personnel plan, addresses for the event venue and the hotel as well as any other necessary information. I also organise the delivery of different items for the event, such as displays, catalogues and any products that will be shown on the stand. I got to visit Eurobaustoff in Cologne last year and I will also be helping to run a competition at Holzhandwerk at the end of March which will be a great opportunity to practice my spoken German.

More recently, I have been involved in the development of new catalogues. My tasks include checking that corrections have been made by the external media agent, sourcing any product pictures that our needed from our media library and checking that the correct product prices are being used. Once these catalogues go into print, I break down bulk orders and send them on to our sales representatives who pass them on to customers. My other main task regarding catalogues is to maintain an overview of the stock levels of catalogues for each brand. To do this I use SAP to check the current stock in our warehouse in Belgium. The report is then sent on to colleagues in different departments of the business so they can see how many of each catalogue are available and how to go about making any orders that they require.

Other tasks can range from translating E-Mails for my team from German to English, to creating ‘Etiketten’ (stickers with the barcodes and prices of our products) using Excel. My role often includes lots of short-term tasks to complete, therefore it is important to manage priorities and be aware of any deadlines that are upcoming and distributing time between tasks accordingly. Sometimes the role can become repetitive, but having the support of my team, the other interns (and a solid music playlist) makes these periods manageable! Overall, the placement is enjoyable and has helped me develop a lot of skills, especially my German competence. The crossover period and length of the placement makes it possible to learn as much as possible and gives me the maximum time to try and absorb as much German as I can before I head into final year.

The office is in Idstein, a small town, so it is slightly different to a lot of people I know who are in placement in large cities such as Munich and Nuremberg. It is quite quiet but there’s everything you need, plenty of supermarkets, restaurants and most importantly ‘Lokale’ (pubs) to enjoy. The nearest big city is Frankfurt which is about a 30-minute train journey away. It’s great to have such a big city nearby that you can go to for shopping, a night out or to visit the English shop so you can pick up some home comforts. Another one of the great things about the Stanley Black & Decker internship is that there’s a group of interns, this year there are 5 of us in Marketing and 1 in the Engineering department. This means that we can organise things to do together and helps to make the most out of the year abroad experience. For example, we’ve adopted Mainz as our German football team and we often go to games, most recently against Bayern (Mainz lost, but 15 Euros to watch Bayern play is a bargain!). Some of us also went down to Munich for Oktoberfest for a few days, which I would recommend. We are planning to visit Amsterdam as well as plenty of other German cities such as Berlin, Bonn and Hamburg so there’s plenty to still look forward to for the rest of this year!

Christmas in Toulouse

Christmas is still a not-so-distant memory, so now is as an appropriate time as any to share with you my favourite time of year in such a gorgeous city.

Firstly, a short disclaimer is necessary on my part – I unashamedly love Christmas; for me Christmas begins the day after Halloween. I am that person. This year, my local Tesco began stocking Christmas goodies in September and I for one was delighted.

I did significantly lower my expectations when I moved to Toulouse though – especially following their somewhat (in my opinion) half-hearted attempt at Halloween. I was however pleasantly surprised at how enthusiastically the city embraced the Christmas festivities. I cannot recommend Toulouse enough to anyone who will be looking for a cheap weekend away over the next festive period, with (at the time of writing) return flights from most London airports for under £30 (some as cheap as £10), and attractions as stunning as some of the following:

Marché de Noël

On the 24th November 2017, 117 white wooden huts clad with lights and festive decorations popped up in in Place du Capitole. The long-awaited (by me, at least) Marché de Noël had arrived. Every year the stalls sell artisanal products from the local area, Christmas gifts and handmade goods in addition to the plethora of fresh festive food and drinks.

I did develop somewhat of a crêpe addiction over the course of the festive period – several friends back home in the UK had words with me about how bored they were of seeing pictures of crêpes on my Snapchat story in excess of three times a week. I wish I was kidding. In addition to the wealth of churros, vin chaud and gauffres (waffles), another culinary highlight of the Christmas market was Aligot – commonly known among students as cheesy mash. Aligot however has a continental twist in the form of extra ingredients: Raclette, butter, cream and garlic and is very commonly found in the region of Occitanie. If this video doesn’t qualify as food porn, nothing does.

Pictures cannot do justice to the quintessentially festive atmosphere – the smells, sounds, lights and cold air epitomise Christmas for me, although this video of the toulousain Marché de Noël in 2015 gives a pretty good idea.

Galleries Lafayette

Much to my delight, Toulouse is home to a six-floor baby of the iconic Parisian department store. One thing it does succeed at is festive décor – although I imagine on nowhere near the same scale as its parent in Paris. Both inside out, every inch of the store was decked with festivity and was completely packed throughout the whole month of December.

The opening of its new rooftop restaurant and bar Ma Biche sur le Toit, from which the views over Toulouse are said to be spectacular, also coincided with the festive season, so, of course, a visit was necessary. Unfortunately this visit was not a success, as bookings are imperative and the wearing of trainers is forbidden, so this trip is still on the agenda for the next few weeks. Watch this space.

Lights in Centre-Ville

Much to my despair I missed the evening of the switch on of the Christmas lights, although France doesn’t seem to be as big on ‘switch-on ceremonies’ as the events we are used to in the UK which generally feature a Z-list celebrity pressing an oversized button on a rainy November evening.

The lights themselves were gorgeous, with each different area of the centre following a different theme. Some of my favourites are pictured below, although I could have taken thousands of photos of this photogenic city and its stunning lights.

 

Captioleum and Square Charles de Gaulle

Behind the Capitole building is the Square Charles de Gaulle, the new home to a small village of inflated igloos for the festive season. These igloo pods contained different themed versions of Santa’s grotto and were a delight for young children. In my excitement I forgot to take pictures, although you can see them peeping into the back of this photo:

Above these igloos, a ten minute Christmas film for children was projected directly onto the back of the Capitole building, which really made it all feel very magical.

As city centre Christmas trees go, I’d say Toulouse does pretty well with this enormous ride-on tree which took up residence in Square Charles de Gaulle:

Christmas at Air France

Having already expressed my feelings towards Christmas, I’m sure it’s not hard to imagine my reaction to returning to a ten-foot Christmas tree in the foyer of the office after a weekend back home in England. This was in fact destined to be decorated by the whole building in order to compete with those in the other four buildings on the site. The theme of ‘origami and paperwork’ was elected and soon the tree was covered in makeshift sticky note adornments and an assortment of origami. Sadly our building did not win, but it was one tinsel-clad rung on the festive ladder to feeling ~Christmassy~.

The festivities continued, with a pull de moche (Christmas jumper) competition and a Christmas dinner taking place that same week. Of course, a large part of running conversation classes is to discuss topics which are current and culturally informative, so naturally I led a class about Christmas adverts in the UK. The John-Lewis style Christmas ads we have come to love are basically unheard of in France, so many of my students found this really interesting.

Santa et Cie

One of the more linguistically challenging things I had resolved to do during my time here was to watch a French film at the cinema – obviously sans subtitles. The first week in December I saw posters advertising a family film by the name of Santa et Cie (Santa and co.), and, given the lack of Christmas films available on Netflix in France, two of us went to see it in the hope of feeling yet more festive.

What followed is the strangest, yet most original Christmas film I have ever seen. The plot is as follows: with only three days to go until Christmas, Santa’s entire workforce of elves become ill, leaving Monsieur Claus and his reindeer to travel to Paris to source the only cure: 92,000 doses of vitamin C tablets. Naturally he encounters a whole gamut of difficulties, and enlists the help of a young family with whom he learns the ins and outs of life outside the North Pole. The narrative features the usual morals of not doubting yourself, and the importance of family, especially at Christmas.

I can only hope this film is released with English subtitles in time for next Christmas, so that I can watch it again and understand the 70% of the speech which completely went over my head.

Watch the trailer for Santa et Cie here:

With so much festivity and the added excitement of having to actually travel in order to get home for Christmas, I can say this was the year I truly felt the most festive in the lead up to les vacances. I left work for the airport on the 21st of December with visions of the airport scene of Love Actually in mind.

Watch out for my upcoming post about some of the non-Christmas highlights of Toulouse!

A la prochaine!

My top tips for dealing with homesickness whilst on a placement abroad

Yasmine Payne graduated from Aston University in July 2017 with a BSc in Business, Management and Public Policy and now works in the Careers+Placements team as International Projects Coordinator. During her undergraduate degree, she completed a study abroad placement in Spain at Universidad de Sevilla. Read through her tips for coping with the struggles of homesickness whilst you’re on your international placement.

Don’t panic!

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Homesickness is natural! Do not worry – of course, you will feel sad to be returning to your placement after spending the Christmas period with your loved ones. However, everyone is in the same boat and there are loads of things you can do to combat homesickness.

Join clubs and societies for international exchange students – not only will you meet new people, but you’ll be too busy having fun to feel homesick.

Take trips with your roommates and explore the countries around you, so when you do return to the UK you will be able to tell everyone your memories of visiting new places.

Skype your friends and family so you have a time in the day where you talk to your loved ones and most importantly have fun!

This year abroad is a time for you to learn new things, realise what you are good at and make friends for life!

Make a photo album!

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When I went abroad and started to feel homesick, I bought myself a nice photo album and printed off all the pictures I had taken so far. I made sure I kept tickets from football matches I had seen, trains I caught when I visited new cities and plane tickets when I travelled to new countries. Even menus from some of my favourite restaurants!

Putting things down onto paper helps you look at all you have achieved and will make you happy to see all the memories you have created so far! Plus this is a great way to show your creative side and when you return home after your placement you will be able to show your loved ones who will be eager to know all about your journey!

Be open-minded!

Moving to a new country is hard and the fact you have made it this far is an achievement in itself so you should be proud!

A new country comes with many challenges and adjusting to a new culture can have its drawbacks, but if you remain open-minded and eager to learn new things you will have a much more enjoyable experience – you would be surprised how much you can learn about yourself when immersed in a new culture! Believe me, there will be people who want to learn about you just the same way you want to learn about them.

Learn the language!

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When moving to a new country, you may also encounter a language you most likely have never spoken before!

When I felt homesick because no one spoke English, I found a Spanish speaking class and this way I met new people who were also on a placement abroad – this also helped me feel more comfortable in my new country as I could speak to people in their language. I was able to make new friends and we would socialise together outside of class. This allowed me to have something fun to add to my daily schedule outside of studying.

Also, having international experience and the ability to speak more than one language makes you look great to employers! Plus when you do move back to the UK, you can show off your new language skills to your family and friends who will be impressed!

I hope these tips have helped and I wish you all the best with your international placement!

Benefits of going abroad for placement year

It’s proven that taking a placement year will benefit your future career prospects. Taking a placement abroad and stepping out of your comfort zone is not only an incredible opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture, it will also prepare you for the global employment market.

Adding the ‘abroad’ element to your CV, already adds value, because it shows the employer your capabilities as a person without knowing you.

I have chatted to a number of students who have undertaken their placement abroad and quizzed the knowledgeable C+P international team, and here’s some of the reasons which stood out about why going overseas is so beneficial!

Skills

Being in a foreign country, you will find yourself having to adapt to the culture, way of life and also looking after yourself where you are all alone without family. You will gain so many skills such as adaptability. Employers will see that you can adapt to situations and that you can do things out of your comfort zone.

 

Personal development

This links in with skills but being by yourself in a foreign country helps you to spend time with yourself and to get to know yourself a bit better. Being in a new place by yourself can be overwhelming at times, and it tests your ability to adapt to diverse situations while being able to problem solve. You will learn new things about yourself and realise you can do many things, which you probably thought you couldn’t, like networking with people.

 

Explore!

This is also a great chance to explore and take part in activities while doing your placement. Sometimes, we don’t get the chance to do this while studying but you have the chance with placement year!

 

 

 

The world is your oyster!