Category Archives: Study Abroad Life

The end of an era: a year abroad in pictures

As the academic year draws to a close and I find myself with my feet placed well and truly back on British soil, it’s hard to believe that I’ve just spent a whole year abroad, on my own, and survived – who’d have thought?!

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survived!

So this blog post is going to be my final one for Aston’s Placement blog (cry cry), and I thought it’d be rather fitting to do it in pictures, rather than ramblings. Pictures are always more interesting!

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But firstly, I must highlight something quite important. If you’re thinking of undertaking a Year Abroad, there’s one rule I followed. I first set off on my year abroad over a year ago, not having the slightest inkling of what awaited me: lions? the jungle? Goodness knows! But I was only going to France and Spain! Having never lived in a foreign country before, I didn’t have a clue about how to feel. So I shut off the “feeling” part and just got on with it. I did this for the whole year and it worked. This is quite possibly the best advice I can offer. I’ve learnt not to overthink things as it’s not worth the time nor energy, this did wonders for my panic issues. Your family and friends will support you no matter what. Smile, make the most of the opportunity and get on with it – no looking back. Not everyone gets to do what you do, so please, for your own sake, make the most!

TOULOUSE

I am honestly so thankful to Air France, because, without them, I wouldn’t have got to experience and live in the most beautiful city in France. I miss working for them, they were honestly some of the kindest and friendliest faces and I’ve learnt so much from spending 6 months with them. They did so much for me and I honestly can’t thank them enough. They taught me discipline and focus, and how to make my work exciting. My love for Toulouse is beyond words. Of course, there are ups and downs to every experience, but I feel blessed to have been able to live there.

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Toulouse is such a beautiful place and I loved living there. It’s a small city with a massive heart and it felt like home. Aside from my horrendous landlady, I had the best time there, and lived a carefree life (outside of work of course 😉 ).

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I got to take quite a few trips from there too because of its fabulous geographical location.

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Toulouse and Valencia, it’s been an absolute pleasure.

Be positive, be happy!

Amy

The End of One Chapter is a New Beginning

Well my time in Rio is almost up…eight days until I make my way to Galeão International Airport for my 14 hour flight back to Gatwick! Of course I will be crying for at least 10 hours on that flight and perhaps the other 4 I will try and sleep, who knows, wish me luck.

When We First Arrived!

When We First Arrived!

But coming to the end of this experience has made me reflect on everything I went through, from getting accepted on to the placement, planning on to coming to Rio and most importantly being here and I am so glad that I decided to do a placement even though I was so scared of going abroad, to learn a new language and culture and to actually be put in a professional working environment that’s related to my degree but the outcome of this placement year I can happily say has been so beneficial, I am very thankful to have this opportunity given to me.
Your placement year will be one of the most memorable experiences of your life whether you are going abroad or even staying in the UK, you will grow professionally and personally as a person, I made life-long friends that I never knew existed, my eyes had opened up to different cultures from across the world as well as learning more about Neuropsychology and how to carry out my own research, safe to safe it has been a busy year no wonder it flew by so quick!

But now it’s time for me to say goodbye to Rio De Janeiro (for now of course) and make my way back to the good old West Midlands to complete the final year of my degree and eventually graduate! Even though it’s sad to bye to this home its comfort to know that I have made friends all over the world (which means more couch surfing and travelling for me) who will always be a part of my heart as well as my memories (I mean I can’t really forget about them, there are too many drunken pictures of us together on Facebook) but now I feel as if it’s time for me to move on and see what the next chapter of my life is!
For all you second year students who are now getting ready for their placements, honestly it will be one of the best years of your life, you’re going to love it! Remember even though you’re going to work or even study, make sure to have fun, go out and meet new people, don’t be afraid and enjoy yourself! And good luck guys, I know you will do great.

This is Brazil

This is Brazil

How my year abroad changed my mindset :-)

So… Summer has finally hit Spain, and let me tell you, it’s ridiculously boiling!

I’m a person that doesn’t like having a tan, as I tend to go bright red and when you put that with my blonde hair, you’ve got a walking fruit salad. So, I’ve been spending the past few weeks either shade-bathing, or revising. But… With one exam left tomorrow that I’ve no clue about, seeing as nobody (even the lecturer) seems to know when or where it is.. It’s time to go cray. By “cray”, I mean lots of gym sessions and eating lots of salad and fruit and all the good stuff… That’s the life!

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In this post, I wanted to write about how my experience this year has helped shape me, without going into too much detail or being too corny. If you’re thinking of taking a year abroad or a similar experience, this could happen to you too!

viva la vida

viva la vida

Before I left The UK, I was struggling with panic attacks up to twice a week. It was awful and it was getting out of hand. Sometimes, I didn’t know why I was having them, and other times, it would be in the middle of an exam (not very convenient…). This is a very real thing happening to a lot of other students. I am super dedicated to my studies at Aston, and I love what I do, but the pressure I put on myself back then was ridiculous. I’ll also mention that I haven’t had a single panic attack since June 2015! :-)

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It’s only looking back now that I realise how much calmer I am (not just because of the siestas), and how much more positive I am.

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Things are going to happen, good or bad, and you just learn to deal with that and look at the positives that may come out of that situation. Nothing is worth stressing yourself to oblivion about. If it makes you that stressed, you should probably take a step back.

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I’ve spent most of my university life unnecessarily panicking when I could have been having fun and making the most of it. So I decided to compensate this year and let loose a little more. I’ve done things I’d never have dreamed of doing. When I arrived in Toulouse I went out on my own all the time, met people whilst I was on my own, travelled across the country in blablacars (with strangers) went to bars on my own, etc. I’d have never done that at home! It’s all about risk-taking, and learning that you can do things, you just have to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

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I’ve just started to learn to not take myself so seriously and to take things as they come. Now I’m at a ridiculously disorganised uni in Spain, I’ve become a lot more laid back and I’ve realised that it’s not going to be the end of the world if something goes pear shaped, just do your best and you’ll get there. Never compare yourself to others. People are going to do better than you, just learn from them.

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The more positive you are about things, the less you’ll worry. If you work hard, at least you can say you tried with everything you had. Everyone likes a try-er. My Spanish has definitely improved during my time in Spain, and as long as it’s getting better and I’m trying hard, I’m happy with that, but still… My already Italian accent has become even more prominent since living with two Italians. But the positive side of this is, it makes for a good laugh.

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“try and look spanish…”

But there’s something else that I must mention which is something important to me: never forget where you come from. Living in a beautiful country of organised chaos (yep, I’m talking about Spain), has made me appreciate what we have in The UK, and to never take it for granted. Sure, there are bits that aren’t so great, but you’re going to get that wherever you go. Valencia is beautiful and I love living abroad, but it doesn’t mean the grass is greener. People might moan about the weather at home – why? Be happy. The UK is beautiful, we get 4 seasons that we get to witness and we are very fortunate. Nothing can change where you’re from, and being away has made me become proud of the uniqueness of being British. Whether it’s milk in your tea or funny accents, it doesn’t matter.

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Be happy and stay positive,

Amy

 

Okay so I’m going abroad…now what? Well Poppet, this is the start of YOUR adventure!

Right well my year abroad is slowly but surely coming to an end! Okay I know I have about two months left (well 8 weeks and 4 days but whose counting?) and to some of you who are reading this now you are probably thinking “come on Amrita that’s ages” well guys in 8 weeks and 4 days I am meant to be back for the “British Heatwave”, not sure if that will match up to the Rio weather but we’ll see, I have some faith. Anyway with this little time left I am doing what everyone does best, reminisce about the time I got accepted on to this placement and realised that I will be living in a different part of the hemisphere for a year, with a bunch of people who I never knew existed.  I still remember the excitement, the happiness and feeling of euphoria BUT I also remember the little mini-breakdowns and panic attacks I had…they weren’t that pretty and involved a lot of wasted mascara.

Anyway what I am trying to say is that I know exactly what you’re feeling right now, even if you’re not going far or even if you’re doing a placement in England that’s only 30 minutes away on the tram, either way most you will be having mixed emotions because it’s so different to university, no waking up to lectures or late nights at the library, instead you now will be waking up to make it to your desk at 9am without dying from that dry-mouth after having those regrettable 3 tequlia shots the night before (it happens to the best of us), it’s a big step to adulthood which is super scary but even today, doing a placement is one of the best life decisions I have ever made.

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Let you friends go on holiday! Welcome Girls

Lets have a mini-story time…so going back many months ago when I found out that I got accepted to come to Rio for one year, I will be honest when I applied for the placement I didn’t think I would get it but I thought “hey why not, the worst thing they can do is say no?” clearly I am very positive person.  Anyway once I found out I got accepted I literally thought “oh my god, how am I going to tell my parents” you see my mother and father are very supportive yet they are very protective of their beloved child.  So I told my mother a few weeks (let’s try 3 months) after I got the yes and her instant reaction was no, I was not allowed to go, Rio is too dangerous and known for the wrong reasons but after a month of begging and learning more about the country (finding websites that said mainly positive things about Rio) and also learning that Sophia is coming with me, she give me the yes to go, well now are you thinking did I tell my father? The answer is no ladies and gentleman, I decided to leave that to mum whilst I went bikini hunting. Anyway at the beginning of when I learnt that I would be coming to Rio I was full of excitement to start this new adventure, to see a new part of the world and to be somewhat independent.  But then around three months before I left for Brazil the fear in me kicked in, I would say to my friends how I am too scared to go, to leave everything and everyone for one year because I was scared of change, I was petrified! I mean me? Living in Rio? In Brazil? I struggle to make a decent cup of tea in the morning, living in Rio seemed a bit too out of my league but from the support of my university, friends and most importantly my family I made it this far and I have not regretted one day since.

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Even the Parents loved Rio in the end!

Doing a placement abroad really opens your mind to new things and new experiences, I have felt and done things which I never thought of doing let alone even have a chance of doing it.  My advice for anyone who is going abroad is don’t give in to that fear, you are a lot stronger than you think and you will be ready for every challenge that comes your way, and I mean personal challenges too, by going abroad not only are you developing yourself professionally for a career in the future but you will go through many personal changes, you will experience all sorts of things, from going out of your comfort zone, making friends from all across the world and even falling in love with people who eventually in a few months will no longer be your next door neighbour but all these experiences the happy ones and the sad ones will each be one of the best things to ever happen to you and that’s what you have to look forward to! Embrace the change in your life that’s going to happen, be prepared for the adventure, it will be a story you will never want to forget, if I could go back in time this is exactly what I would tell myself, that there is nothing to be scared of, you have all the support from your friends (old and new), your family and even your professors (abroad and at home), everyone is pushing you to succeed, you have nothing to worry about! Now go buy that camera, you have a lot of memories to make…

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Family all over the world #Argentina

Friends, Amigos, copains, amici…Call it what you want Friendship is the same in every Language.

 “Sometimes you meet a person and you just click-you’re comfortable with them, like you’ve known them your whole life”- Alexandra Ardonetto

Vamos Começar (lets start)…

Class in Session

Class in Session

Firstly and foremost I have finally made my return to PUC, I finally stopped travelling (for now) and carnival feels like a lifetime ago and I have now returned to a desk with a book and pen, oh the joys.  Anyway returning to PUC means I have started my Portuguese classes which aren’t as scary as I thought they were going to be, of course my initial thought was ill be in a class where I don’t know anyone, in a university I don’t really know and (to top it all off) I’m in a country which isn’t my own, these are pretty intense negative thoughts right? Well soon as I quivered my way in to class, I assure you I was ready to run out that door (I had a scene playing in my head as if I was a cartoon and would leave a Rita shape hole though the door because I wanted to run away that fast) but instead I decided to sit in the corner of the class…okay I know that wasn’t the bravest thing to do but hey at least I’m being honest.  Okay so I’m quivering in my chair and ready to play the part of being the uncool person you see in those teenage American films but when it came to the crunch making friends with the people in my class was still awkward but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be, so long story cut slightly short, you’re going to be nervous for your class but I promise everything will be okay, want to know why?  Because everyone that is sitting in that classroom with you is literally feeling the same thing as you because they are in the same situation with you, so these awkward and scared feelings actually help you make friends (weird right?).  Making friends will be easier than you think, and you will be surprised with the people that you meet and the best thing is that you are going to meet people from all over the world and eventually some of those people will feel like your family and that’s one of my favourite things about doing this placement abroad, I met people who I never knew existed but now I have a little foreign family and the support you get through these people is indescribable, but here is the bigger bonus boys and girls, you can drag them along you with when you want to travel and that’s exactly what I’m doing, me and three friends are travelling to Sao Paulo to the Lollapooloza Festival.

Oi Sao Paulo!

Oi Sao Paulo!

One of the best things about doing a placement abroad is that you are able to widen your contacts as well as your friends list on Facebook, so one thing I do suggest for everyone to do before they go on their placement is to make a LinkedIn account, if you haven’t heard of this it’s basically a more professional version of Facebook, you can keep in contact with new contacts (mainly potential employers) and people can view your recent work/career related activities.  Overall I think it’s a good idea to make an account which allows you keep in contact with the professional people you meet without them viewing what you were up to last Saturday night.

Time Is Ticking.

This academic year has definitely been a rocky year for sure, and despite being homesick at the beginning, I know for a fact when I finish my study placement, I will miss Spain! (OK not the study part!).

Travelling is a must do. Spain may not be as big as the USA or India, but believe me there is a lot of cultural differences and a lot of adventuring to be done in Spain.

Having missed out on an ESN TRIP (Student Network), to Valencia , My friends and I, the KRAZY KRYSTAL and CRAZY CARA set of to Valencia, the home of Paella. I travelled separately there as I had classes earlier in the day. The first day was muddle, they missed their train and I got to Valencia all well, despite being sent to the outskirts of Valencia, Xativa by a train worker when mistaken for Xativa Metro Station. However,  I loved it, a city that was a mixture of new and old, had a beach but was cosmopolitan at the same time.  Public transport wasn’t as great as Madrid and a lot of walking was done, but I am glad that I can tick Valencia of the list! My favourite part of Valencia was the Life and Sciences Museum area:

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Life and Science Museum. Credit to Krystal, she clicked a better photo!

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Cara, Me, Krystal in the old town, Valencia. There were times when we wanted to kill each other, but there were lots of good times to look back on.

Krystal asked me to do this, so I did... She wasn't expecting it. Considering a career in modelling now HAHA

Krystal asked me to do this, so I did… She wasn’t expecting it. Considering a career in modelling now HAHA!!

I also visited Sevilla in term 2, on my own due to unforeseen circumstances and I was nervous. Sevilla is definitely more traditional compared to Madrid, but it is a beautiful city.  This trip made me realise that I have an independent characteristic and many were proud of my solo adventuring. (What I mean is that I can actually look after my passport 😉 ). The main advantage of solo trips is that you can do what you want, whenever you want and how you want! The Alcazar Gardens was definitely my favourite sight in the city, which also happens to be a setting of ‘Games of Thrones’.

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The Real Alcazar. Muy Bonita.

The Famous Plaza De Espana

The Famous Plaza De Espana

Metropol Parasol

Metropol Parasol

As I only have a few months left, I am eagerly awaiting to tick the boxes on my to-do list. It is important to remember that although I am here on a study placement, being able to balance leisure time with working time is crucial. You should not work all day. If you find yourself not being able to concentrate, go gallivanting. I was bored of revising one SUNNY SUNDAY, so I decided to go Retiro Park with some friends. Retiro Park is an amazing park, one of my favourites and the Sun makes it better 100x. The ambience is amazing and there’s always street performances occurring. You can also go rowing!

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Being Spontaneous is also a great way to find out many events. For example, that very same day, I found out that a few Bollywood stars were in Madrid promoting the IIFA awards as they were going to take place in Madrid in June, and I was ‘so gassed that I could have exploded‘ with excitement. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to meet them, but it was nice knowing a part of my culture was being spread in Madrid.

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Finally, I would like to end this post as a memorial. Every March, there is a festival in Valencia known as ‘Fallas’ and it very popular. Many student organisations organised trips there, and many returned safely,  but a bus of ESN Barcelona crashed and sadly some left the world. I would like to pay my respects to the victims as well as their families. It’s tragic that students who were given the same opportunity as me, on a year abroad, and events like this make you feel grateful for life. RIP x

Hasta Luego

 

Gagan

 

 

Febero- Facil? Fiesta?

Buenas Tardes readers. February definitely has been a been a major turnaround for me; it has  taught me the importance of languages. I enrolled myself for the University Spanish A1.1 course, although this did make my bank account cry. Having studied Spanish for a couple of weeks already, I can tell you that I have fallen in love with the language, es muy bonita! For some reason this has given me more a purpose in Spain and I feel more connected to Spanish culture. Not only that, I have a fantastic teacher, Rocio, who manages to interact with us as if we were receiving 1 to 1 tuition. I would highly anyone to learn another language if they had the opportunity, it is an investment for your future and allows you access to more career opportunities. Students who are going on a study placement next year, you have no excuse, give it a go!

View from Building No.6 UC3M, Getafe Campus.

View from Building No.6 UC3M, Getafe Campus.

Another highlight of the month is the fact that I am now 21, and believe me this time last year I had no idea that I was going to be celebrating the big 21 in Madrid. I actually count myself lucky that I had this opportunity to do so and had an amazing fiesta with my friends in Madrid, some who I have only known for a couple of weeks.

On the way to Terato Kapital on the Big 21 with Cara Kennedy and Joshua Kandola.

On the way to Teatro Kapital on the Big 21 with Cara Kennedy and Joshua Kandola.

At Terato Kapital with my friends!

At Teatro Kapital with my friends!

To top things up, my family came to visit me for a couple of days as part of my birthday celebrations, to which I am ever so grateful for. My family loved Madrid and were very impressed with the city. There is a lot of culture in the city, to which I will discuss in a future blog.  They even noticed a positive change in my behavior. I also must give a shout out to my friend Avmeeta Virdee, who has also noticed a more happier content Gagan.

Mum and I at Plaza De España

Mum and I at Plaza De España

Sister, Brother In Law, Nephews, Me, Mum at Delcias Train Museum

Sister, Brother In Law, Nephews, Me, Mum at Delcias Train Museum

My Sister, nephew and I outside Real Basilica de San Francisco el Grande

My Sister, Nephew and I outside Real Basilica de San Francisco el Grande

My brother in law, nephew and I at Esadtio Santiago Bernabeu.

My Brother in law, Nephew and I at Esadtio Santiago Bernabeu.

In terms of university life, the majority of my modules are more interesting this semester, and it helps to choose modules that you enjoy. As well as that, I carefully planned the modules I was taking in this semester. My advice to students are undertaking a study placement soon is to research and plan carefully the modules you want to study. You will feel more engaged with classes and the last thing you want to do is study modules that serve you no purpose, because believe me, I have been in that situation. Luckily, I was able to learn from my mistakes to carefully choose in second semester.

Credit to Be Madrid. Enjoying a night with Cara, Nick (Exchange student from Indiana, USA), Joshua and Deniz ( Erasmus Exchange from Bilkent Üniversitesi, Ankara, Turkey)

Credit to Be Madrid. Enjoying a night with Cara,  new friend Nick (Exchange student from Indiana, USA), Joshua and new friend Deniz ( Erasmus Exchange from Bilkent Üniversitesi, Ankara, Turkey)

As the month comes to the end, I am sure the semester will get busy, my advice to students is to enjoy the first couple of weeks before it gets super busy. That is all for now, I will be back soon to tell you about my adventures in Spain.

Hasta Luego

Gagan

 

Want to know how to survive in a City that never sleeps? You don’t…you learn to balance!

Okay so my supervisor (Daniel) has returned from his trip in Italy and we all know what that means, of course back to work I go! Although I will admit, I would rather return to a placement in Rio rather then returning for a second term with new modules (probably still drunk and disorientated from New Year’s too), is this another reason to do a placement abroad? I think so.

Anyway as I mentioned in my previous post, February is also a really important festive month in Rio  and that’s because it’s time to celebrate the world renowned event and that is of course *Drum Roll* Carnival! But this also means its time I learn how to balance work and manage a social life at the same time, and I’ll tell you one thing, films make it look so much easier than it actually is, even if my snapchat story begs to differ.

Masquerade anyone?

Masquerade anyone?

Right back to Carnival, this was like a once in a lifetime event for me (although I make it my life mission to see it again because funnily enough I don’t think just seeing it once will rest well with me), I finally got to see the cultural side of Rio and coming together of different nationalities for this event, you really get to meet some interesting people ( and I don’t just mean the weird drunks on the street) from across the globe and actually get to experience what Rio is actually all about.  So what did I do? Here they have events called “Blocos” these are basically street parties, people selling drinks and food in the street, there is a lot of music and of course a lot of Brazilian dancing, and I promise you, these guys can really dance! So I attended some of the Blocos mainly in Copacabana and Ipanema, stayed quite close to home but wow, people know how to party here and it just didn’t stop and to be honest I didn’t want it to either! But of course Sophia and I purchased tickets to see the Carnival parade in the Sambadrome too, which a part of me didn’t actually believe would be as amazing as Sophia said it would be (I know guys, I was completely wrong), but the costumes, the music and especially the atmosphere was unforgettable, sitting in this stadium from 9:00pm to 3:30am watching all these performances, everyones hard work and seeing all this talent was truly amazing and to be honest it is something I will forever appreciate seeing, seriously if you guys are wanting to travel around February time and really have got no clue where to go, I am telling you book Rio, don’t even think about it just do it. Please.

Bloco

Bloco

its almost like Disney magic

its almost like Disney magic

So here’s the difficult part, with my supervisor making his return, so did my work and responsibilities, which meant I had to add a new word in my vocabulary, balance.  Yes balance really is key, you can be anywhere and do anything but remember your responsibilities, its hard but so worth it when it comes to the crunch.  I guess this is more of the hard thing of being abroad, you eventually feel like your time is so limited being in a world you just want to explore, that it can be easy to forget why you are actually there in the first place, so how did I do it? I organised myself, which if you guys saw the state of my bedroom you would realise that’s not my strongest quality (I’m sure I’m not alone with this confession), so I planned my week, I also contacted my supervisor to see what my tasks would be before I return to PUC.  My main task being at the moment conducting a literature review of psychological research for him, looking at different papers regarding virtual reality and mood induction, grouping records and finding themes within them to see what has been found in this field so far.  I was able to organise days I had to work and then plan the days I wanted to party with my friends, and it  actually worked! I can say at times it felt like I was sacrificing a good night out but it was worth it, so here’s one tip I have for you guys, when on placement you just have to pick and choose your parties, it is super beneficial in the end, you get a reward, for example when you realise you have completed a lot of your tasks, you can plan a weekend away to Florianopolis with some friends you met at Rio Carnival, sounds good right? I think that’s what I am going to do next anyway.

Its easy to make new friends everywhere

Its easy to make new friends everywhere

Its January so time for Exams? Oops I mean it’s time to travel (Benefits of Working Abroad)

January is when exam season is right? Time for that last minute cramming right? To remember that one little important thing, in that one lecture you were hungover in right?  Well luckily for me, January in Brazil (well in PUC anyway) is still another month of vacation! Normally for students they don’t have to come back until March (I know, come on England I think you need to reinforce this rule), anyway students come back in March due to February being the month of Carnaval, another big holiday, so the Portuguese classes for me don’t start until March.

Anyway luckily for me and Sophia (another Aston student who got accepted on the placement) our supervisor, Daniel, is away on a business trip in Italy until February, so we also don’t have to go back until then, so with all this spare time, what would be the best thing to do? That’s right, let’s go travelling! See what Brazil has got outside of Rio!

Sophia and I went to a state called Salvador which is located in the north of Brazil, and what an experience that was. It was wonderful to experience another culture which Brazil had to offer, here the culture was more African influenced and it was amazing! We got to see many beautiful things such as “Igreja Senhor Do Bonfim”, a local church where people come and tie colourful bands and make three wishes (loved the positivity in this place) and a town called Pelourinho, where Michael Jackson had shot some of his music video for “They don’t care about us”, a monument was made in his honour.  But one thing that truly made my trip, everyone was preparing for carnival! This mean’t that everywhere on almost every street people where practicing their dancing, playing the drums for their set, so almost everyday we got a free show! What more can a girl want aye!

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One of my favourite things about doing a placement abroad is that I feel you learn more then what you’re supposed to learn on your placement or what you learn for your degree, you gain a higher insight of the world which I truly believe can help you develop as a person, there are a lot of personal benefits.  For example I believe that once I return to England and update my CV, I will be able to add more than just “Did a research placement in Rio”, I developed other skills such as learning Portuguese, pushing me to enhance my Spanish skills, developed my communication and problem solving skills, which are a lot of positive things you want to develop.

Dealing with Exams and Hello, Goodbye

January is a hectic month for  an Erasmus student. After spending the Christmas break back home in the United Kingdom, it was time to hit reality and show the exams who was boss. What I liked about my exam timetable this semester was that it lasted only 8 days, and I prefer them to be done and over with, a lagging timetable seems never ending. However, the exam period did prove difficult as I was typically used to revising with my friends from Aston University and it felt unusual not having that company around me. The good thing though was that I had made friends at UC3M and I was able to revise with my UC3M friends.

My UC3M friends did warn me that the final exams were harder than the continuous assessments, but I had suspected this anyway as this tends to be the case. In terms of dealing with the exam stress, I thought I managed to keep it going well. For each person there is a different way of dealing with stress. For myself, going for a run or paying a visit to the gym helps me, and for others it could be watching TV, going for a walk, or even catching up with friends. What is important is that you find a way to deal with stress, otherwise it may make you forget some of the content you have been going over and it is not worth it.

The completion of exams marked the end of the first semester, which means there was going to be arrivals of new exchange students. However this also meant I would be saying goodbye to students who were returning back to their home countries for either completing their final semester or would be pursing with an internship, like my friend Krystal Gill, but fortunately I will be seeing her in my final year at Aston. So far the opportunity of meeting people from different countries has been eye opening. I have learnt so much about other cultures and it just wants me to keep on learning more. Italians usually greet each other with a kiss on both sides of a cheek, Spaniards prefer to eat dinner later in the evening. Non-Europeans like to do as much travelling in Europe as they can as it proves expensive to make individual trips to European countries from their home countries.

I look forward to interacting with new exchange students in the upcoming semester. Below are several photos with the people who made Semester 1 an enjoyable experience. Good luck with your degrees and remember to study hard!

Gagan D S Grewal

Saying hello to Isabella DiPhilippo. She is my new flatmate, an exchange student from The University Of Maine, United States.

Say hello to Isabella DiPhilippo. She is my new flatmate, an exchange student from The University Of Maine, United States.

One of the study zones in the library at Universidad Carlos 3, Madrid.

One of the study zones in the library at Universidad Carlos 3, Madrid (UC3M)

With fellow Astoner-UC3M Krystal Gill on her birthday. She will be pursing an internship in London. Definately one of the reasons my stay in Madrid was more enjoyable

With fellow Astoner-UC3M Krystal Gill on her birthday. She will be pursuing an internship in London. Definitely one of the reasons my stay in Madrid was more enjoyable

Celebrating the end of exams and Krystal Gill's birthday weekend with Joshua Kandola, Erasmus exchange from University of Sheffield, United Kingdom

Celebrating the end of exams and Krystal Gill’s birthday weekend with Joshua Kandola, Erasmus exchange from University of Sheffield, United Kingdom; Cara Kennedy, Erasmus exchange from Trinity College, Dublin; and Krystal Gill, Erasmus exchange from Aston University, Birmingham.

Saying goodbye to Alessia Giaume, an exchange student from Bocconi University, Milan. We studied the demanding Econometric Techniques together.

Saying goodbye to Alessia Giaume, an exchange student from Bocconi University, Milan. We studied the demanding Econometric Techniques together.

Saying goodbye to my Flatmates Jorge García Escribano, who has taken an alternative programme at another Spanish University; and Valentina Crenna, an erasmus exhange from Bocconi University, Milan.

Saying goodbye to my Flatmates Jorge García Escribano, who has taken an alternative programme at another Spanish University; and Valentina Crenna, an erasmus exhange from Bocconi University, Milan.