THE BLOG

The Year Abroad: Trials and Tribulations

26/03/2015 12:55 GMT | Updated 24/05/2015 10:59 BST

As a linguist, your second year is not based around planning internships, thinking about doing a Masters degree or going into work at long last. Instead you get to look forward to a year abroad; an educationally acceptable gap year so to speak. It is an opportunity to travel, to live in another country and to put off the world of work for another 365 days. We take a look at a few of the different ways to spend you can spend this magical year abroad:

The University Placement

For those that can't bear to leave the campus life, most universities have links to other institutes abroad; these can be through the Erasmus scheme (European universities only) or through external links to universities, in China for example. This is a relatively safe and secure option where you still have the support of a university, while taking classes and meeting a whole new set of friends. What is important in these placements is getting registered correctly at the institution and the area that you're staying in. In some countries if you are staying for more than 3 months then you must register as a resident for multiple reasons (tax and medical as key examples). Equally if you are going to a country outside of the EU you may need a study visa in order to stay in the country for an extended period of time. All of this kind of information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice. It is essential to check this before travelling anywhere as, if you are required to apply for a visa, it can take some months to arrive.

The Teaching Assistantship

Although being a language assistant in a school can be arranged privately, the vast majority of students opting for this style work go through the British Council Assistantship programme. Essentially you will be an English language assistant in a country of your target language and will usually work for between 12-20 hours a week. Again this is a relatively safe option because you have the support of the school, fixed hours and a substantial amount of funding. Some schools will even help you sort your accommodation, although this is subject to your individual school. One strict part of the British Council Language Assistant Programme is that you must accept the placement no matter what. Once you have applied you are obliged to take up the place if offered so make sure you are certain you want to do this option before applying. Another thing to think about with British Council is where you want to go. You can put down three preferences, but remember, think outside the box. If French is your target language, you don't necessarily have to apply for mainland France. Quebec and Outre-Mer are great places to apply for if you want a different experience.

The Internship

For the more daring or those wanting some work experience before returning to finish their university year, an internship abroad is ideal. There is less stability but if you stay within the EU you can receive an Erasmus Grant for internships of 60 days or more. Internships allow you to specialise in a field of interest and get paid in many cases! However there are many more administrative things to consider. Do you need a work visa? Do you need to set up a bank account in the country and what are your rights as an employee? As a British citizen you do not need a work visa for other EU countries, however again it is best to check specific working rules and regulations on the FCO travel advice website (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice)

All the options above offer great scope and a lot of flexibility, meaning that you can make your year look however you want - just remember to plan ahead! No matter what option you choose or where you go, if you are spending a year in a foreign country, make sure you really research the laws and customs, talk to other people/students who have visited or even better lived there before to get tips on making the most of the place, and how to really integrate.