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What it’s like living abroad / in Spain

Living abroad is a scary yet exciting decision to make. It’s slightly different from moving away to live out for University since you can just casually take the train home whenever you like and whenever you’re missing your mum’s home cooked food. It’s a whole different story when you live in another country. It’s a new experience that you will remember for the rest of your life and it’s the honestly the best opportunity to learn to be independent and to gain new experiences. You decide where you would like to go and ‘break free’ from your standard home routine.

One of the biggest perks of living in a country like Spain is definitely the weather. From August to late October, the weather is beautiful (still)… but from then on, it gets a colder. Most people (myself included) assume that Spain is ‘hot’ all year round… please do NOT make the mistake of thinking this! It is most definitely not good weather all year round as I have experienced heavy rain, strong winds …almost as bad as England! Ok, maybe that was slightly exaggerated.

If you live out for University then you’re pretty much half way there to living abroad. You’ve already entered the independent life and you’re fine to fend for yourself (kinda). If you’re lucky like me, you’ll meet great people on your placement and you’ll make lots of friends! But some aren’t as lucky and find themselves quite lonely – it’s really important to venture out and at least attempt to meet new people…otherwise you’ll be isolating yourself in a foreign country that barely speaks your language! Believe me, you don’t want this to happen to you.

Money is something you have to personally watch over when you’re living abroad because before you know it, 3/4 of your Erasmus has gone and you don’t realise what and where you’ve spent it all on! Most the times you will eat lunch or dinner out and eventually that will add up. If you have a kitchen, try and cook as much as possible! But that’s not saying you can’t go out and treat yourselves to a nice meal every so often. Thankfully, we have our Erasmus and Student Loan to rely on and think about getting a part time job whilst you’re out there. I currently tutor three students every Saturday for two hours for extra English classes. My placement is unpaid so I took the initiative to get myself a job to earn some income.

Transport is great in Madrid – I pay 20 euros a month for access to the metro and buses which saves SO much money. One journey to Madrid city centre from where I live costs 3 euros 60 alone. If you’re from London, then you’ll be more than used to using the underground or taking buses… if you’re not, you’ll learn to use the metro ever so quickly and nowadays, we have smartphone apps to help us get around on them! It’s all about learning and finding your way.

Be open to trying new things…this is important. Wherever you end up, the country might not be 100% to your likings and it might not offer everything you’re used to having. Travel to different cities, try new food, meet new people – just have as much fun as possible and make the most of your time abroad. There are tons of different cuisines in Madrid – from the typical Spanish tapas to Japanese food, Chinese, Indian, Turkish etc.

The Spanish culture is very different from the English. In Spain, everyone is very laid back and some people are not so polite. There’s a lot of pushing and shoving involved on the metro and lack of personal space. But this is something that you get used to …eventually! Your normal dinner 6:30/7pm dinner routine will be pushed back to 8pm, sometimes 8:30pm. Again, something you have to adapt to and you learn about another culture whilst on your year abroad ~

The last thing you want to do is finish your year abroad regretting this and that – so make the most of it and choose your destination wisely 🙂


download madrid-gran-via OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


A day at IBM Hursley

Instead of giving a wall of text to describe what a day in the life of a placement student is like at Hursley, I decided it would be best to show it in photo/GIF form.


Click to animate GIF

First on the agenda is most obviously tea. “Tea!?” is bellowed out round the office at least 4 times a day, so it’s pretty hard to avoid the great English tradition.


With beverage of brewed leaves to hand, I get to work. Today I’m working on load testing the team’s product. ‘Load’ being a form of testing used to put the product under extreme stress to see where it breaks and make sure we patch up these weaknesses.


I then move onto my Giveback for the day which is giving Southampton Solent business students a tour of Hursley.


First we took them for a walk through the grounds to have a look at Hursley House from the outside. This is the building where a lot of the client meetings are held.


Click to animate GIF

As a part of the tour, we took them to the museum that is in the basement of Hursley house, which contains many relics from the history of computing.

In the above image we have the IBM Portable PC 5155: IBM’s first ‘portable’ computer. It still boots up to this day and runs PAC-MAN despite being released back in 1984.

The story behind this particular model of computer is that when IBM opened their first shop in London to sell them, on day one somebody just came in a walked away with it. At first there was panic as they thought this could only mean bad PR, but the newspapers that Friday had stories not about the fact that it was stolen, but that it was actually portable enough for it to be taken at all because for its time, it was really quite the sleek unit.


Click to animate GIF

This is the IBM Thinkpad 701c, which had a very unique ‘butterfly’ keyboard that folded out when you opened the lid. This meant that the laptop was extraordinarily compact.


This is the Wedgwood Room, so called because of the very distinctive wedgwood blue and ceramics on the walls. I have had a couple of meetings in here, all of which had awesome food!


Wedgwood ceramics


After the tour, I head back to my office to carry on with my normal day’s work. I then have a meeting with the 2 other placement students who I sit with in my office to discuss our Giveback project called Congrats2. It’s a software project that we work on for a couple hours a week and it isn’t directly related to our job roles. In the above image, we’re discussing user interface changes.


Click to animate GIF

Then before I know it, the day has ended and we get to drive out of the rather picturesque Hampshire campus.







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:


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


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’.


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!


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.


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





What I wish I knew in my second year

The jump from first to second year:

cat fail kitty leap impawssible

Reflecting back on second year, and taking my learnings from placement year here’s what I would do differently.

Make me-time! Second year can feel a bit intense and you find yourself dreaming of easy-breezy first year. When workload is demanding and yourself struggling to focus take a break. If possible, turn off your laptop to truly switch off from work for an hour or so. Also, don’t only plan social events in advance; if you’ve been working hard and want to go out, just do it!

dance dancing fresh prince of bel air carlton carlton banks

Don’t compare yourself to others  – how far you get in the process isn’t dependent on your capability, it’s dependant on which capabilities are valued by that particular employer.

Don’t let others put you down – the stress of placement hunting can sometimes cause people to belittle you. Don’t let it affect you.  If it becomes a common occurrence call them up on it.

tiffany antm tyra banks tyra be quiet tiffany

Don’t rehearse  – the STAR technique is a useful technique but when you’re reading prepare answers word-for-word it can come across as robotic. Plus preparing in that way can throw you off if they ask you a variation of a question you weren’t expecting. Instead,  understand your different experiences at uni, how you acted and what you’ve learned from them. These experiences are likely to showcase more than one skill.

Understand your priorities – societies and placement searching are important activities but don’t forget the importance of your studies. Create a timetable to help you balance your priorities throughout the year.

school study arthur buster studying

Celebrate successes – you will learn a lot in your second year. Make sure to celebrate how much you’ve grown!

party fun how i met your mother applause celebrate

Exciting Things I’ve Done So Far

Doing a placement abroad means that there is so much more to the experience than just a job. Living in a country as wildly different as Vietnam has led me into some pretty fun ‘extra-curricular’ activities on a regular basis. Here is a selection of my highlights from the first half of my placement.

1. Parasailing 

Parasailing would have been a great activity to try in the UK, but throw in a little Vietnamese-style health and safety (and lack thereof) and boy is that an experience!

But I didn’t die, and it was amazing to be able to see the entire city to one side, and endless ocean to the other.


2. Trips Away

I’m so lucky to have a placement in such a wonderful and diverse country such as Vietnam, and so any opportunity to see more of it and I’m on board.

I have the beautiful Ancient town of Hoi An on my doorstep, and have been able to have weekends away in the old capital, Hue and the bustling, hectic Ho Chi Minh City.


On top of this I was able to spend my Christmas expanding my horizons and exploring more of Asia, visiting Bali, Kuala Lumpar and Singapore.

Each of these trips have given me new and diverse perspectives on life, shown me spectacular views and allowed me to taste wonderful foods.


Travelling really has been one of the best parts of this placement.

3. Ending up in the Ocean After Nights Out

We work hard but we certainly play hard too. For such a small city, Danang has a surprisingly consistent night-life. Each week we meet new people travelling through, and make some really great friends in the process.

And what better way to solidify a friendship? Ending up in the ocean at 2am. Yet another perk of having the beach so close.


4. Attending my First Vietnamese Wedding

Weddings are a fantastic way of seeing into a country’s culture, and as luck would have it, one of the best friends I have made on this placement got married in October, and I was honoured to be part of it.


It was slightly crazy, I understood very little of what was going on, but it was a brilliant night, full of joy and love, and I was thrilled to be there.

5. Meeting Ambassadors

For a teaching job I’ve done a surprising amount of networking.  I’ve met a lot of important people I never thought I would get a chance to meet, including both the Vietnamese Ambassador to the UK, and the American Ambassador to Vietnam. I’ve had a chance to meet and work with some great minds from around the world and it really has been a pleasure.


I’ve also taken shots with the keynote speakers from international conferences, but that’s a story for another day…

6. A Few Body Mods

So it looks like I’ll be coming home with at least one new tattoo and one new piece of facial jewellery – but the year’s only halfway through…

Getting a new tattoo and my nose pierced in Vietnam weren’t actually as scary and back-alley as they sound, I did go to well established places.

It was a lot of fun, and tends to worry people when I tell them.


These are just a few of the things I’ve been up to both in and out of work. Whittling it down to just these few was hard, as these six months have been so full and diverse. Who knows what your year will hold!

Thinking about studying abroad?

Thinking about studying abroad?

Honestly, I did not really plan on studying abroad. My initial plan was to work abroad for a year and then go back home and complete my degree. However, life doesn’t always go to plan and it was extremely hard to find a work placement or internship abroad which were interesting apart from teaching.

I am studying abroad in Ankara, which is Turkey’s capital city. Yes, I know, I thought Istanbul was the capital too. But, it was a superb decision to study abroad and I have immensely enjoyed the semester I’ve spent here.

So here are some tips on studying abroad for your placement year/exchange:

Number one:

Find out what is being offered by your university. Go to the international placements team, ask questions, and find out which countries your university has links with. Pretty much go crazy with researching. Don’t forget to find out what type of funding you are entitled to receive too.

Number two:

Now that you have a vague idea about where you would like to study abroad, give your parents a heads up. Yeah, you are legally an adult, but you can’t just randomly pack your bags and tell your parents on the day that you are spending four or more months abroad.

Number three:

Now you will need to start the application process. For me it was pretty straightforward since I pretty much stayed in Europe, so had to go through Erasmus. Erasmus is basically the European exchange program.

I rewrote my CV and cover letter, went through the interviewing process and a few emails and stuff later
wala! I had secured my place as an Erasmus/exchange student.  (Want to find out more about the Erasmus program? Click on the link)

Number four:

DON’T MISS DEADLINES! My initial plan was to go to another country, but sadly I had missed the January application deadline due to all my exams. I pretty much forgot to apply because I was so busy.

Number five:

Don’t over pack. You can go shopping when you move into your accommodation. Not like you are moving to the middle of nowhere. If you are though
.. erm
. You might have some issues.

Number six:

Get a valid visa, make sure you have all the insurance stuff which you need and book your flights accordingly.

Number seven:

Go to your chosen study abroad destination and settle in. Meet new people and enjoy the “honey moon” stage.

Number eight:

Don’t think about home too much, limit talking to friends back home you will see them when you are back. Try to enjoy your time abroad.

Number nine:

Don’t forget to study. You are still a student and you know
 your grades abroad will still affect your grades back home.

Number ten:

Time flies. So have as much fun as you can. Before you know it, you’ll be back home again reminiscing the time you lived in another country on your own.

The video below inspired me to study abroad. What he shows and talks about is so relevant. I’ve only been in Turkey for a few months and I’m not the same 20 year old I was back home. I’ve grown so much as a person
and will continue to grow during my stay here. 

Nailing the French Culture


Stand by some Dior branding and they’ll always think you’re French… or even Parisienne!

Sorry, I’m back again to give some more of the French low downs. So, I thought seeing as it is such a crucial part of moving to any country you might want to know a little bit about the real Parisien culture.

So let’s break it down.

1) Be sure to get some coffee down you at least 15 times per day – I know the British Tea culture is pretty big, but by god it is nothing compared to the French coffee culture. It is not frowned upon to leave your desk for twenty minutes at a time to take a coffee with some chums or colleges, so capitalise on the petite pauses to give your eyes a screen break – even if you’re only a water-drinking freak like myself. Plus its great for practising some French.

2) People running down the mĂ©tro stations to catch a mĂ©tro that they don’t even know exists, and sprinting into half-closing doors and getting stuck is completely normal and they won’t even be embarrassed. Sure its fun to try get the train before the buzzer goes, but with my stiff upper English lip I’m not prepared to get stuck in-between the doors when the next one is only ever 3 minutes away.

3) The next culture tip is one that I have come to love. Saying ‘Bonjour’ and shaking/kissing the cheeks of everyone in your office is normal (I mean every morning to each person. I have a team of 30 to kiss or shake hands with). It sounds like a massive effort, but it is a brilliant way to get to know everybody, get some exercise and pass a few minutes before you’ve even set up your work space. Trust me, they also talk about who does and doesn’t do it and asses how rude it is over lunch so it’s worth the effort.

4) Swearing in French chat or to yourself is perfectly acceptable. This doesn’t mean you should follow suit though, I just don’t want you to be surprised. The amount of ‘M’ and ‘P’ words I have heard thrown around the office in casual conversation or when someone is muttering to themselves is quite profound. I mean in the UK if I sat at my desk at said the ‘S’ and ‘F’ word every five minutes people would both look and consider if I had turrets.

5) Casual dress – luckily you can take this as you please, it can be literally t-shirt and jeans right up to smart casual for women. There is truly no pressure to dress up. It is, it seems, more common for men to wear suits in the big offices – sorry boys, no jeans for you unless it is dress-down Friday and even then a shirt, jeans and jacket works best.

6) Smoking is bigger than in the UK, but nowhere near what is was just a few years ago, so you shouldn’t feel any pressure to smoke. If you’re worried you’re missing out on socialising and can bear the smoke fumes, go outside with colleges on their smoking breaks and absorb the chat as well as some lovely odours whilst your at it. Just as an example, in my team of 30, 3/4 people smoke.

7) Literally no ‘cares’ are given in most situations. This is doesn’t count for everyone, but it is more common to look and walk on here, so don’t be shocked if you fell over and no one ran to your rescue. This is however different when it comes to striking – there has been at least one a month since I came in August and they can be pretty rowdy.

8) The French love you to use their language rather than English, but don’t be surprised even so if they laugh, correct or tell you they have no idea what your on about – they do, but you either haven’t used the right colloquialism or specific word that only a French person would know. We are far more relaxed with foreigners making mistakes with their English whilst they learn. You just have to let it go in and try and remember for next time, whilst not correcting their English too much – they don’t like that either!

9) Say bonjour to people you don’t know in the toilets – its the done thing and you don’t want to stand out. You can also add a Bonne journĂ©e when you leave too, even it is a complete stranger you have never seen before. I mean imagine if in the UK you said Hello to stranger in the toilets and told them to have a nice day, they will either appreciate your kind words, know that you’re French, or think you’re a complete nutter.

10) Figure out several routes to get to work and back! The transport won’t always tell you why a service is delayed or the specific details of where it stops etc, it’s not to say you have no idea, but it’s best to be prepared as we know how much they love a good old strike over here in la belle France.

That should help you get by for now I think.

Have fun with your adventures.

A la prochaine,


How I got my Placement | What my Placement is.

As promised, I’m going to tell you all about my Placement and how I got it.

During the summer holidays of summer 2014, I had already started thinking about placement and what exactly I wanted to do. I’ve been wanting to be a teacher for a very long time and with the help of working at KUMON for three years, I was able to comfortably decide on which field I wanted to get myself involved in – teaching. Originally, I had the idea of teaching in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is basically my second home – where my parents were born. I love the country. I spent a few weeks emailing International schools in HK asking whether they would take on an intern for one year. To my disappointment, all responses were negative. Nowhere in Hong Kong were looking for/taking on Undergraduates with no real qualifications… Which is fair enough. It was definitely worth asking! Even if I did get a ‘no’ from everyone. I then decided to stop looking as it was during our summer vacation so I didn’t really want to stress myself out before second year of University had even started!

Second year had started and that was when the real search began. I turned to Aston Futures. I’m sure you are very familiar with Aston Futures by now…and if you’re not, what are you waiting for? Get yourself in there with the website! I actually began looking for teaching internships in Asia… There were many on offer in China, Vietnam, but they weren’t quite what I was looking for! So after a while, I gave up                  …on looking for teaching placements in HK.

My next option would be to do my year abroad somewhere in Europe and to my luck, there were several teaching opportunities in Spain – I guess you could say I was spoilt for choice! So in November 2014, I applied for a TA – teaching assistant role at a Spanish International School called SEK El Castillo, Madrid. I was nervous to apply because it was my first placement application but with the ever so useful help from the Blackboard resources, I was able to update my pretty non-existent CV and write up a well-written cover letter. A few days later of applying to this placement, I received an email offering an interview! I was quite surprised at how quickly the process was going – of course, I didn’t know what to expect, being my first application.

The Interview
My interview was held via Skype and was not as formal as I thought it would be. I had prepared by researching the institution and practiced speaking with a confidence attitude. Again, I used Blackboard to help me with what I should expect during the interview.
The questions asked weren’t as ‘serious’ as they could have been. I’ve heard about job interviews and the random questions they ask you to catch you out but my interview was more of a ‘get to know you better’ one. My employer asked several questions from my first year grades to what I want to do in the future to do you like to clean. (Quite a selection, eh?)
I think my interview went fairly well and I was even told that I was ‘beautifully spoken’!
I was told that I’d get told whether I’d been shortlisted in a couple of months so it was a pure waiting game from then on.

On January 23rd 2015, I was offered the role. I received an email of congratulations in the afternoon and I was ecstatic! I didn’t stop applying for other placements after this one – I think I applied for 4 or 5 in total so it felt amazing to be offered the job by the first application!

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What is my placement? 
My job role is an English Teaching Assistant at a Spanish International School called SEK El Castillo, Madrid. I live next to the school in University halls with full board – this means, I have breakfast, lunch and dinner at the school canteen.

I assist two classes of 20 students (40 in total) and I work with Primary 1 (kids aged 5-7). Some of my responsibilities are;

  • marking work
  • checking their diaries
  • playground and lunch duty
  • preparing classroom materials
  • creating presentations for the school blog
  • taking/picking them up from swimming

I actually don’t speak much Spanish myself but I’ve found that I’ve picked up some words and phrases during my first 4 months here in Spain, so I feel like I can understand a little more than I did before. It also helps that the majority of my students can speak English, despite being so young.

Sometimes I teach the classes alone when the teachers are off sick or busy with some other job – this is a great opportunity for me to gain some teaching experience! After all, I’m just an assistant. But saying that, my teacher treats me like another teacher and my students give me full respect of that role.

Working with young children is rewarding and fun…they always know how to make you smile and your relationship with the students grow ever so quickly. I feel like I’ve grown closer to all of them so much and I know that they appreciate my presence (they tell me off when I am not there haha).

If you’re someone who enjoys working with children and being creative, then teaching could be the role for you. You’re not restricted to one role… you play a big part within the classroom and you’re always occupied.

Feel free to comment with any questions!

– Tiffany

My Class

My Class11903460_10155996912050424_56454141_n      11992207_10156015283560424_1514607772_n (1)



6 reasons why you should live and work abroad

I know I know, you’re busy, you’ve got exams and you’re just running off to the gym to keep up with the New Year health hype! But, give me a few minutes to work my linguistic magic and you’ll be a little wiser to a life living and working abroad.

Let’s kick back for 5!

  1. Boosting your confidence – its clichĂ© I know, and I would say I was pretty confident in most aspects of my life, but being thrown into a new team with different working practises and whom don’t speak your language as their first language can open your eyes and teach you to communicate in ways you never knew you could. Expressive hand gestures and personality become crucial to getting the real you across.
  2. Opportunity – There is going to be very little time once you’re a full-timer (after university) to get long stretches of time off to enjoy the same kind of experiences abroad as you can when you’re on placement year – I know I sound like a parent, but it couldn’t be more true. This year is one of the most valuable so make the most of it and get making those lifetime memories and nabbing that chance at going overseas.
  3. New fabulous (French in my case) international friends – Networking is great at the best of times, but when you can do it across social, linguistic and cultural boundaries, the better – who knows what foreign doors you might open up in the future.
  4. Dealing with your problems independently – I think in this case I am referring to personal problems, such as with a property or bank account – Even if your already extremely self sufficient it is ten times harder in a new language with different systems and your parents and other friends might not be able to help. It’s a real life lesson in being put down and learning to pull yourself up again.
  5. Having fun – nothing beats exploring the place where it’s at and Paris certainly hasn’t been a let down with sights, bars, clubs, cultural activities and many more things. I myself am a bit of a geek; I love to read, get lost in some art or spend some time in the library, but I also like to party and socialise like everybody else.
  6. My last and final point, as with everything in life, your experience abroad is whatever you make it, if you put no effort into learning the language or exploring the culture then you’ll get no real benefit back, but if you do the opposite, you will be rewarded heavily. Oh and don’t be nervous – I know its easier said than done, but really, you’ll get over the nerves and forget you even had them once your out and about in your new chez-toi!


A bientĂŽt guys!

My placement experience so far

Hi everyone, my name is Gemma and I’m at currently on placement at GSK working in the university recruitment team (funnily enough the team that hires placement students). I study Business and Management at Aston and it’s been interesting to see what your course has taught you and what you can only learn in the workplace. To sum up my experience so far:


New friends, new city, new lifestyle. It’s almost like Freshers again – oh, except the working part. Occasionally it can be slightly daunting having to settle into a new city again (especially coming from a smaller town) but it’s made a lot easier with the new friendly faces.



Placement year is an exciting time both personally and professionally. You are given so many opportunities that you are unlikely to experience whilst studying at university. For example, alongside three other placement students I had the opportunity to plan a large event for almost 80 students from across the UK to provide them with insight into GSK as an employer. It was called GSK Revealed and we actually had several Astoners attend! During this event I was responsible for managing a panel session discussion and facilitating conversation between a crowd of 80+ people, something I never would have considered myself doing before placement.

I’m halfway through my placement now and I’ve had several experiences such as facilitating an assessment centre, attending career fairs and attending a recruitment insight event alongside other key recruiters such as L’Oreal and Microsoft. I also think that placement is what you make it – try to opt for opportunities to put you out of your comfort zone!

happy excited james marsden exciting enjoy


Despite the great opportunities, placement does not come without its challenges. In fact, there are some days where you would rather be in peak revision mode (I know!). Placement year gives students a unique opportunity to experience working in a professional environment and  having team members sometimes depending on you to produce results can be slightly daunting! I think that one of the key transitions from the university to work is the shift from the individual (grades) to the team (yours and your colleague’s performance as a whole); even being a team player I found this a strange transition.

Cheezburger funny crying kids mondays

Monday morning feels

You learn a lot about yourself. Sometimes you are shown different ways to improve on what your consider your strength. Other times you can find a hidden talent!

An experience

To sum up, placement is a wonderful challenge and I look forward to seeing what opportunities lay ahead!