Victoria James: BSc Zoology
Study year abroad at Université de Bourgogne, Dijon, France
"One of the main things that attracted me to Leeds in the first place was the opportunity to take a year abroad as part of your degree programme. Having studied French to AS level, France was the obvious place for me to go. When I was applying to study abroad, Leeds had three links within France and I chose Dijon, capital of Burgundy and at the heart of the Burgundian wine region.
It was incredibly daunting on arrival – I didn't know anyone and I soon realised that the language barrier could potentially be more of a problem than I first thought! However, once I had met with my supervisor, I had a much clearer idea of what I was doing. My supervisor was very helpful and supportive throughout the year.
For the first semester I followed 2nd year courses which included plant and animal biology. They were quite tough but it was very rewarding to see yourself progress and be able to understand a four hour practical in a foreign language! During the second semester I followed a 3rd year course in animal behaviour and worked alongside a masters student on a research project in parasitism and host behaviour. It was a great experience to be able to work in the lab as it gave me the opportunity to get to know my colleagues and my French improved greatly. It also gave me an insight into what a final year lab project at Leeds would be like and helped me with my choice.
Even though the work was quite intense, I was still able to appreciate France, its great culture and cuisine. I was able to spend some time travelling during the year – exploring the local area, other regions of France and with the excellent train links, Switzerland, Italy and Spain (it is a good way to make use of friends studying abroad in other places!). Being in the centre of a famous wine region, there was ample opportunity for visiting vineyards and châteaux and plenty of wine tasting at numerous ‘wine festivals'.
To take up the challenge of a year abroad shows great courage – and it will definitely be worth it. It may seem hard at first but it certainly gets easier. I had some great experiences and shared them with many new friends (French, American and English). My year abroad has certainly improved my confidence, independence and self-motivation. It has helped me focus for my final year at Leeds and I am hoping will prove invaluable when applying for jobs, not just for the language skills but also the life skills gained. It was a huge challenge but I'm so glad I completed it!"
At the time of writing, Victoria was a third year student. She graduated in 2009.
Sophie Mills: BSc Biology
Study year abroad at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia
"I’m on the study abroad programme at the University of Newcastle in Australia. I’ve been living on campus and enjoying the Australian student culture, whilst studying full time at the Uni.
The modules I’ve taken while I’ve been out here are very similar to the structure of those at Leeds which makes things a bit easier, and allows more time to focus on getting the most out of living in a new country, rather than getting stressed over the study side of things. I’ve become involved in things that I wouldn’t necessarily have at Leeds, such as writing for my college’s magazine or volunteering for a children’s charity. All of which I hope will make me a more rounded and successful person in the long run!
I think there are countless ways in which this time abroad will help me in the future… I especially feel like I’ll be a lot more focused and capable of achieving my potential in my final year.
In terms of finding a job I think going abroad shows a lot of qualities potential employers would want in a person, such as initiative, organisation, capability, and a sense of adventure! I’ve enjoyed meeting so many fantastic and interesting people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise, whilst enhancing my education, and seeing parts of the world that I didn’t think it was possible to see by the time I was 21!
The most challenging part was actually making the decision to go when the first applications went in. Once I’d decided, that was it, I was going… so there wasn’t much point in worrying from then on. It’s just important to focus on making the most of this once in a lifetime experience after that. If you have the courage to even consider going abroad then you’re half way there! Most people dismiss it for whatever reason or excuse, but if you just have the confidence in yourself to take a chance, then the benefits to you and your education outweigh any possible disadvantages. For anyone that is considering it I would say have as much fun as possible while you’re there, see all you can, meet everyone you can, do things you wouldn’t normally do…because believe me, 12 months goes so much quicker than you imagine it to!
Overall, its been the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had, and I encourage everyone who has the opportunity to seriously consider taking it!"
Rebecca Smith: BSc Sports Science and Physiology
Study year abroad at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia
"I am having the best year ever. Studying abroad is definitely a great way to enhance your degree and see an awesome country. I would recommend it to anyone who gets the opportunity.
I am half way through the year and have settled in really well. I have really enjoyed the socialising, travelling as well as the studying and how can I forget the surfing and the beach! Australia is such an amazing country and the people are really friendly.
Newcastle is in New South Wales about 3 hours north of Sydney and is a beach town drenched in surf culture, there are loads of great beaches to go to and have great 'Aussie' BBQs. The night life is different to Leeds with more pubs and bars rather than clubs, but they still have the good old fancy dress theme nights at college!
I stay in Evatt House which is a college on campus, it has a great community atmosphere and organises many social and sporting events which they encourage everyone to take part in. I would recommend staying in Evatt House to anyone hoping to study here. It is much better than the other colleges and much more social than living off campus. Living in Evatt House allows you to make the most of your stay, and you get the chance to meet both international and Australian students.
The semester is arranged in to a 14 week block with a 2 week holiday in the middle which is a great chance to do some travelling. I managed to do a road trip from Cairns to Sydney in a campervan which was quite an adventure. There is also a great summer break which allows you to see a lot of the country and New Zealand too!
The workload is mostly concentrated on coursework, I had quite a few lab reports and presentations; although you still have exams at the end of the semester. There are loads of clubs to join such as a mountaineering club that goes on trips every weekend, hiking, kayaking and various other outdoor activities. There is also a surf and scuba diving club which are all good value for money and loads of fun!
I would recommend Newcastle as a place to study abroad, as it is close to Sydney and offers plenty of other places to visit. Also, the University has a great community spirit and the chance to participate in a wide range of both sporting and academic activities. Although the campus is not in the city centre, there are regular trains and buses which take you into town and it is easy to get anywhere. I have had a great year so far and am looking forward to another great semester!"
Katharine Cresswell: BSc Medical Sciences
Study Year Abroad at University of Toronto, Canada
"In my third year I studied as an exchange student at the University of Toronto as part of my medical sciences degree. While I was over there I studied a combination of biomedical science modules and modules on Canadian culture.
My study year abroad has given me a broad range of knowledge as I had the chance to take modules that I couldn’t have taken at Leeds. Coming to study in another country has given me confidence and motivation to get the most out of my time at university.
The most enjoyable part of the trip has been having the chance to live in a foreign country, experience a different culture, meet loads of new people with similar interests and travel around Canada, America and Mexico.
BSc Medical Sciences is a really great course if you are interested in all aspects of human biology. It is hard-work but worth it! I can’t recommend study abroad enough, I really feel it is one of the most beneficial things you can do at university both academically and personally."
At the time of writing Katharine was a 4th year student.