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Living abroad as a student brings you new opportunities

Living abroad as a student brings you new opportunities

If you like to enjoy the richness of student living, then what are you waiting for?

Looking back on the 2010s, something I’m sure we’re all happy to leave behind is the saturation of the word ‘wanderlust’ in Tinder bios and Insta stories.

We’re fortunate enough to live in a time where globetrotting has been democratised and, boy, are we taking advantage of that!

And sure, travelling lets us have a taste of a different culture and way of life, but with more and more options both as a student to move abroad for a semester, year, or more, what is it really like?  I wouldn’t change my two years in The Netherlands for the world, so I asked a few friends for a hopefully less one-sided perspective!  (Spoilers, everyone loved it.)

Joe, British, Cardiff University/Uni of Nottingham

Joe Purplefrog Property

Not the worst place to spend a year … (image: Booking.com)


Taking part in a year abroad allowed me to develop personally and integrate into a new culture. It’s astounding how quickly my French improved while living in Toulouse, and immersion is the way to learn any foreign language!

I gained a lot of self-confidence from living independently and studying in French – it was quite daunting at first but it’s one of the most important experiences I’ve ever had, and I would recommend it to anyone.

It’s something that differentiates me from others during job interviews, and my cultural awareness has improved from spending time with other Erasmus students.

Lucas, American/German, University of South Florida/Uni of Nottingham

Lucas Purplefrog Property

Buenos Aires doesn’t look too bad either
(image: Forbes)

Spending nearly a decade of my life in Latin America gave me a unique perspective that was difficult to share with friends and family that came to visit for a week at a time.

Just as a Londoner doesn’t identify Big Ben as the essence of life in London, neither did the Mayan ruins in Guatemala, the coffee plantations of Colombia, or the Argentine estancias embody the experience of living in those countries.

While all of those were beautiful, the real experiences were epitomised by the much smaller, daily and weekly, rituals. One such ritual consisted of accompanying Guatemalan friends to grab a bite to eat after a night out.

The meals, usually at roadside taco shops that would give a first world health inspector an aneurism, were enjoyed shoulder to shoulder on plastic stools right in front of the stands and were as authentic an experience as I can recall.

The risk to my digestive track was outweighed by not only the taste of the food, but the banter with friends and locals. As with so many things in life, the essence of growing up abroad was not categorised by the monuments and tourist attractions, but the subtle immersion into local culture through everyday habits.

James, British, Uni of Nottingham

It’s truly no exaggeration to say that living in China was the best experience of my life. Incredible experiences, making lifelong friends and gaining an appreciation for new cultures that I will always carry with me gave me a whole new and exciting outlook on life.

Studying abroad was the reason for me landing my current job and my Chinese language improved dramatically. I could not recommend the opportunity enough and am lucky to always be able to look back on the unforgettable memories.

Aidan, British, University of Plymouth

Plymouth Purplefrog Property

Mandatory bike/canal bridge shot (image: Holland.com)

Through my studies, I’d never planned to move abroad.

All the talk about future jobs was focused on design studios in London and across the UK. However, after graduating I was offered the opportunity to move to The Netherlands, for a graduate scheme.

I weighed up the options and decided to take a leap of faith and pack up my stuff and move abroad. This was the best decision I’ve ever made.

Being open to working abroad opens a load of new opportunities, rather than confining yourself to jobs in just one city or country. It pushes you to grow faster both personally and professionally and allows you to explore and engross yourself in a new culture, in a way you never could from just visiting.

Me again

The stories above are only a peek behind the curtain at what living abroad is like, but despite being in different countries around the world, one commonality stands out – immersion makes all the difference.

The richness of experience from living somewhere so different to your home helps you grow as a person, and the shared experience with other expats and the bonds you form with the residents will last a lifetime – just do it!

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