Ah, final year. The brutal reminder that university isn't quite the time of your life that you were once promised as a Fresher. Amongst my looming deadlines, pending seminar work and an endless reading list, my plans to get try and get myself on the career ladder is not going too well.
You may be one of the lucky few, rejoicing in the fact that you have finally received that highly coveted job offer/Master's placement. However, the majority of students in your year are probably freaking out, as they have no clue where they are going, what they are going to do, and are essentially just counting down the days until they'll be disowned by their families. (Mine is approximately 8 months and counting).
But where was I last year? Planning ahead? Getting invaluable experience in journalism? Nope. I was hiding behind my year abroad, escaping the "final year fear". Paris certainly made it easier for me not to panic about my lack of future ...
That isn't to say that I wasn't reflecting, however. While I did enjoy my regular pain au chocolat and strolls along the Seine, I was in two minds as to whether this year abroad would benefit me in the long term. Of course, everyone told me it will, and still tell me that now. Yet, I can't completely believe it. My thoughts included: "Will I be subjected to the same horror that my final year friends are currently experiencing? Or will I sail through the process of job applications, simply because of my year-long Parisian nap?"
Here's my answer. Regardless of whether you are interning or studying; using a foreign language or studying in English; being examined regularly or simply writing a journal about your experiences - your year abroad will make you stand out. You could've just taken three years in the UK, but instead, you have separated yourself from your course mates, and now are no longer just another 2:1 candidate - you are something more.
Petra Tang, who took a year abroad in Utrecht said: "Spending a year in a foreign country forced me to move out of my comfort zone. I learned to quickly adapt to situations and became more independent. No one is going to sort things out for us unless we take initiative. I think my year abroad friends and I have all matured and grown through this experience."
With this, you can always refer to your unique experience in interview questions. A time when you overcame a challenge? "When my one-bedroom apartment in Paris flooded and left me homeless..." definitely sounds like a more impressive obstacle to have dealt with than "I managed to complete all 5 essays due in for the same deadline in second year".
Yuki Kojima, a student from Waseda University, spent her year abroad studying at Warwick in 2014, and is now two years into her graduate job. "It [a year abroad] definitely helped when I did interviews, especially since I was aiming for companies that are successful globally. They were looking for candidates who are adaptable to changing environments, and who aren't afraid to do something new."
Undoubtedly, a year abroad shows you are adaptable, confident and independent. And if these benefits aren't enough, you also have a nice additional 'cushion' year, in which you can gain more experience before facing those nasty job applications as a finalist.
All things considered, it seems like your year abroad isn't just a year-long party and last minute language tests - you are actually gaining some pretty invaluable transferable skills. A year abroad won't automatically open doors for you, but it could mean you have more of a chance of getting at least one foot in those doors.
Ultimately, it all comes down to how well you can sell yourself. Your year abroad isn't just a fond memory - it has the potential to be so much more. In order to have the best memories, always ensure you are travel aware, by following FCO Travel on Facebook and Twitter, and checking their website for live updates about your new home.