Read this Q&A with Ellen Hill where she explains her reasons for choosing to study abroad and what she has gained from the experience.
Why did you apply to study abroad?
I wanted a change of scenery from Durham, so I applied to places that were the polar opposite of Durham – big, busy cities. I wanted to experience life in a different culture. You get a totally different experience when you’re living somewhere compared to just visiting it on holiday. I wanted to meet new people from different backgrounds. I wanted to have a broader choice of modules to study, and the chance to study in another language. I wanted to improve my German. I wanted an adventure!
What was the best thing about your year abroad?
The friends that I made were definitely the best part. Living in international halls was amazing because I got to meet so many people from such different backgrounds but who were just like me! I now have friends from all over the world who I hope to visit soon.
It was also a great opportunity to be truly independent – it taught me a lot of lessons about organisation and taking care of myself. I am also a lot more confident than I was before going – having to organise everything in another language means that you have to push yourself to be confident, otherwise you won’t get anything done! Another great thing was living in a big city. There was always something to do, and so many fun events that were free!
What piece of advice would you give to potential applicants?
Be prepared for ups and downs (but they’re worth it). Having to be very independent means that there are moments where you feel completely overwhelmed and out of control, but that’s normal and everyone experiences it! You’ll get through it and be really proud of yourself when you do!
If you have the opportunity, try to live in international halls. It makes life much easier in terms of finding a place to live (finding an apartment in Berlin is nearly impossible, and can only be done once you arrive there), and you are surrounded by people in the same position as you from all over the world. However, if you’re really trying to improve a language, this isn’t a good option, as everybody around you will be speaking English.
It is what you make of it – if you go in with a positive attitude, you’ll probably have a good time! Definitely do it! If you’re a social person, an adventurous person, or someone who enjoys travelling, YOU WILL LOVE IT!