Blog: Studying abroad in Spain and France

Hey! I’m Mimi, one of your Student Content Shapers, and a third year BA Modern Languages student at UoB, specialising in French and Spanish. Currently, I’m writing this from sunny Spain where I have spent the last four months studying at the University of Zaragoza. 


As part of my course, I have the exciting opportunity to spend a semester either working, or studying, in a French and Spanish speaking country. I’ve been lucky enough to have already completed my semester in Toulouse, France. With only one month left in Spain, I thought it would be great to reflect on my experiences in this blog.

Studying abroad has been an incredible journey, not just to improve my language skills, but to also meet new people and connect with different cultures. I’ve been exposed to a whole new way of life in my new home. It has truly been an unforgettable experience that has shaped me in many ways as a person. I definitely encourage anyone considering a year abroad to take the leap!

 mimi abroad 1

Why Spain and France?

Deciding where to go on my year abroad was quite a challenge. I had only visited Spain a few times on few school trips, so I felt a bit clueless about where would be good to settle.

Thankfully, the Modern Languages department gave us a broad list of available places in both Europe and even Latin America for Spanish, and Canada for French.

As well as this, the Modern Languages Society played a pivotal role; their Instagram takeovers by fellow students offered invaluable insights into different cities and their experiences living there.

mimi abroad 2

I chose to stay in Europe because I found the culture and the rich history of both Spain and France fascinating. Plus, staying closer to home meant I could easily pop back for a quick breather if homesickness kicked in. Something I wish I had known before my year abroad is that it’s absolutely okay to miss home. Despite the incredible adventure, it can be overwhelming at times when you’re in an unfamiliar place and your brain has to constantly work in another language.

Coming back to the UK for the first time felt really weird. I could suddenly understand what everyone was saying around me, and I was so used to communicating in French that I caught myself saying “merci!” to the bus driver getting home from the airport, still in my French mode! But that was totally normal! I’ve connected with so many other students doing a year abroad that feel exactly the same, and it’s become something we can all laugh about and bond over.

Travelling and experiencing new cultures

My favourite part about my year abroad has definitely been the chance to meet new people and immerse myself in their cultures. Europe, in particular, has been a melting pot of experiences thanks to the Erasmus programme, which brings students from across the EU. Being part of this vibrant community has opened doors to countless events and trips tailored for international students. I’ve especially enjoyed the Erasmus trips, which have taken me off to places that I wouldn’t necessarily go to for a whole holiday. Plus, getting around is super convenient as the public transport tends to be pretty reliable here. For example, in the south of France, on the first weekend of the month, the trains are only 1€! What a steal!

mimi abroad 3

Growing in confidence

This year has changed me so much as a person. Moving to a new country entirely on my own has instilled a new found confidence in me. From navigating everyday situations in my second language, to tackling unexpected challenges, I feel like I can conquer anything now, even in English.

Admittedly, it has been challenging at times, especially when dealing with the visas and post-Brexit paperwork. But these experiences have equipped me with loads of different responses for the classic interview question, ‘Tell me of a time you had to overcome a challenge'.

Looking back on my journey, I’m very surprised with the number of things I’ve managed to just deal with whilst still enjoying every little moment here and going with the flow.

Should I do a year abroad?

The short answer is yes! It’s one of the best experiences available to you during your time at UoB and maybe one of the best times to do it as an adult. Even if you’re not going abroad to study a language, the academic and personal growth is invaluable.

Plus, you’re not alone— university support services more information on the Student intranet are still accessible while you're abroad, and financial assistance from the Turing Scheme is available if needed. Yes, it can be difficult at times, but it’s so rewarding and you’ll gain an experience you will never forget!

mimi abroad 4


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