As a language student studying Russian at university, i enrolled in a year abroad for my
third year of studies. I
choose the beautiful cosmopolitan city of St Petersburg, where I would spend nine months studying and
embracing the culture. When I arrived at the airport on the 1st of September, with two suitcases,
which supposedly contained my life for the next 9 months, I was more nervous than I have ever been about
leaving home. Nine months later, boarding the plane in St Petersburg ready to come home, I felt a sense of
disappointment which I wasn’t quite expecting. Here are a few things I learnt whilst abroad, which
heightened my confidence in the statement that you will learn more through travelling that anything
Living in a new country, even a new city can be daunting, especially when alone for the first time. But
the necessity to figure out public transport routes, find the local supermarket, make new friends simply
becomes human instinct. I found that as soon as I needed to get something done, I did it. And after the
first few days of struggles I was set. When you realise you can do things despite the obstacles,
suddenly these very same obstacles seem less destructive and more like challenges. This new positive
attitude you acquire becomes a way of life and soon in work, education and even your social life you
begin to work harder and welcome more challenges.
There is no denying that our education system is effective and one of the best in the world –
but why not start experiencing what you have spent hours learning in the classroom? Travelling will
educate you like no other experience, it is an investment in education like no other. I had been
learning Russian for ten years prior to my travels and I thought my knowledge of the country and its
culture was relatively thorough. But nothing prepared me for my life there. Travelling enables you see
things first hand , you take in the culture, you put into practice the skills you have learnt. You gain
global perspective and independence that no teaching method will provide.
An obvious benefit of travel is improving our language skills and towards the end of my year abroad my
language skills had improved dramatically. It’s not important what level of language proficiency you
have, the important thing is to involve yourself In the culture around you. You will be surprised how
much you pick up from simply walking around a town, reading menus, watching TV (I would highly recommend
foreign cartoons! ). Many cities also provide language exchange clubs which are a great way to begin
learning a language as well as meeting other people! If you
are in need of some extra help learning languages visit tutoring pages.
Another important aspect that travelling provides is a an exposure to other cultures and traditions, a sense of understanding and knowledge of how the world works. This is both interesting during travels and an essential skill for later life. Most jobs, in all sectors require a tolerance and ability to engage with people from all over the world, of different backgrounds and cultures. Starting your understanding of this from a young age can really put you in good stead for later life.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began my year abroad in Russia, I was nervous, excited and unsure all at the same time. But what I know for sure is that I returned to university in my fourth year, more ready than ever to tackle my final year at university; a positive attitude, openness to new things and a new found confidence in my approach to life. I would recommend a year abroad, a gap year, a month of travelling to anyone of any learning discipline