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A special perk of being a Goldsmiths student: the Go Abroad programme!

Antonia Morena Olivares, a BA Politics & International Relations student, writes about the Go Abroad opportunities she has participated in as a Goldsmiths student – and why you should get involved!


Dear friend,

Now that you are starting a new academic year at Goldsmiths, I want you to know about a special perk that the uni offers.  So you can enjoy Uni as much as possible, especially during these unconventional times. This perk is The Go Abroad Programme.

I am Antonia, a recent graduate from Politics and International Relations. And I participated in this programme this summer. I am a little bit frustrated because I only got to know about the programme during my last year at Goldsmiths, I wish I knew about it earlier. But to be honest, it came at the perfect timing: lockdown. During quarantine, I made more international friends from the comfort of my couch, than I probably did before covid-19. And this is thanks to the virtual global opportunities offered by Goldsmiths.

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Peer-Coaching in Ljubljana, Slovenia

This ICCE student completed an eight-day peer-coaching course in Ljubljana, Slovenia. They were awarded funding from Santander Universities to help cover the costs of their placement.


In August of 2019 I travelled to Ljubljana in Slovenia for an 8-day peer-coaching course. I found the course through the Erasmus website, and it seemed to be one of the only peer-coaching training programmes in Europe. The course was organised by a company called Primera, and they are one of the kindest, most thoughtful training providers I’ve ever worked with. There were so many little details – they bought us croissants every morning, they organised a trip to show us less well-known parts of Slovenia, they adapted the training to suit each person’s needs, at one point the trainer even offered to lend one of my course mates her car!

Although the training was academically very useful for me and has progressed my understanding of the topic, the highlight for me was working closely with so many Europeans (I was the only British person on the course). It enabled me to understand how open, multi-cultural, and outward looking a lot of European people are, and I noticed a real difference in their outlook as compared to British citizens. I have tried to take this new perspective home with me, and to take more of an interest in things happening outside my immediate bubble. Another highlight was the food! I had a few absolutely incredible meals there, normally in restaurants recommended by the training providers or people on my course.

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Studying French at the Alliance Française de Toulouse

Serena Yang, a International ICCE student, completed a two-week French course at the Alliance Française of Toulouse in France. She was awarded funding by Santander Universities to help cover the costs of her placement.


How did you find your placement?

I discovered that I could receive funding to go abroad when I saw some information about the programme in the Goldsmiths app, where, at the team had been making a concerted effort to showcase global opportunities. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the programme is open to students from non-Eu countries, so I booked a meeting with the global opportunities team. It was during this meeting that I decided to apply for a place on a two week French course at the Alliance Française de Toulouse.

What were the highlights of your experience abroad? 

My two-week French class at the Alliance Française Language School in Toulouse allowed me to learn not only the language but also the local culture. I was able to truly immerse myself in the language because I was consistently surrounded and influenced by the city’s linguistic practices. In addition, my classmates were made up of individuals from all over the world, which meant that I was able to gain an insight into the various linguistic approaches of people from other nations, as we were all grappling with French in our own unique way. Through this process, I created many close connections, especially with a fellow classmate from South Africa.

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Volunteering as an Au Pair in Spain

Madeleine, a History student, volunteered as an au pair for a Spanish family in Madrid, Spain. She was awarded funding by Santander Universities to help cover the costs of her placement.


At the beginning of August 2019, I hopped on a train from Yorkshire and just over a day later I arrived in Madrid, Spain. I made use of the Go Abroad funding by purchasing an interrail ticket and using trains instead of planes to reduce my carbon footprint. After having studied Spanish for just 7 months I was eager to use it in practice, but didn’t want this experience to cost the earth! Through the organization AuPairWorld, I found a host family online who I would be staying with for the next month in return for helping their children with English.

The highlights of my time abroad range from the feeling as huge as being whisked into Madrid’s mountains on an old rickety train, to engaging in Spanish conversation at a coffee shop. Spain has such a variety of landscapes on offer, from poolside paradises to luscious green forests. It was such a thrill every time to be able to hear the Spanish language all around me!

a young blonde woman jumping in the air against the backdrop of a multi-colour painted wall

My daily routine involved getting up with the family to help the kids start their day and then learn English through play. We baked scones, read stories and even watched the Chuckle brothers! In the evenings I set out to my Spanish classes where I improved my understanding of tenses and demystified many lexical definitions. Lesson learnt: ‘embarazada’ means pregnant…not embarrassed! My daily routine differed from being at home as the lifestyle was centered around being outdoors. The sun was almost always shining which meant that the children had much more freedom to enjoy nature and be active!

My top challenge whilst being abroad was staying in tune with the Spanish language. It was so easy to switch off and let the language wash over me, instead of truly participating. I was prepared for the fast pace of native speakers, but did not anticipate that it becomes tiring to be actively listening and digging deep into my brain to produce an unfamiliar language. But this is also something I improved at over time by spotting commonly used phrases and making note of them, to try and embed them deeper into my own vocabulary.

From my experience abroad I learnt a lot about myself and my interactions with other cultures. I gained a better understanding of Spanish politics and how this is influenced by their culture and history, which like any European country, plays a strong role in forming the Spanish identity. Professionally I reaffirmed the lesson that you should always give 100% to everything you do otherwise you will live in regret. This is especially important when working with children as they require so much encouragement, and you are forming lifelong memories. In an academic sense, I learnt that becoming fluent in a language is an all-encompassing task which requires huge reserves of patience and an ability to laugh at yourself and your mistakes!

My top tips for students about to go abroad would be to make the most of your location and get to know it from top to bottom. Take lots of photos and talk to the locals – they will point you in the direction that Trip Advisor cannot. I had the most incredible trip thanks to the fund, if I was eligible to go again I would do it in a heartbeat!

 

How to write a great Go Abroad application

Whether you want to study, work, or volunteer, Go Abroad funding is competitive, so how do you write an application that stands out?

The Global Opportunities team offers their best application tips and tricks to give you the best shot at success.


Do your research

You need to explain why you have chosen that institution/organisation and why that particular country. What attracts you about your destination? Is there a specific part of the culture that you love? Does the institution/organisation do unique work? What would you gain here that you wouldn’t gain elsewhere?

If you’re applying to study abroad you may want to speak to the Erasmus Academic Coordinator in your department for advice on the institutions available.

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How to Find an International Placement

If you’re interested in working or volunteering abroad but don’t know where to start, here is a step by step guide to finding international opportunities that will develop your skills and experience, and get you a step closer to your dream job.

This guide is based on a presentation delivered by Diana Akinmboni and Sarah Hiscock from the Careers team, alongside the Global Opportunities team. If you want to receive alerts regarding future events, sign up to our newsletter here.


Step 1: Identify appropriate opportunities
Firstly, it is important to ask yourself these questions;

• What are your career aspirations?
• What skills and experience do you want to gain?

Reflecting on these questions will help you narrow down the kind of opportunities you should be looking for. There’s some great advice on the Goldsmiths website here and on the Prospects website that can help you to identify the jobs which would suit you.

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Mythbusting: Go Abroad

We explore the top five myths and misconceptions around going abroad, and explain why there’s nothing stopping you from gaining international experiences!


Going abroad is too expensive

There is funding available from Erasmus+ and Santander Universities of up to £1500 to support study, volunteer and work abroad opportunities, as well as additional funding for widening participation students and students with disabilities. You will also still continue to receive your student loan while abroad.

Lauren Haley, a BA Anthropology student, said, “As a student from a low-income background with the stresses of rent to pay during summer break I would not have been able ‘Go International’, particularly as an unpaid volunteer, without this bursary.”

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Copenhagen Q&A

Daniel Deefholts, a BA Politics and International Relations student, reflects on his term studying in Copenhagen.


Q: How did you feel when you found out that you had been awarded a place on the Study Abroad programme?

A: I was thrilled. Managing to secure a place months before the frightening reality of Brexit began to fully kick in was a big deal for me.

 

Q: How did you feel about your host university before you left?

A: It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study at the University of Copenhagen. Growing up, I studied at one of the lowest performing high schools in Croydon so the chance to study at one of Europe’s top-ranking research universities was a rare opportunity.

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