After 51 weeks, 9 city breaks, 3 flats, 3 bikes and 2 countries this one human is exhausted.
Relieved…In a word how I’m feeling right now! After 11 hours in Schipol airport and a 50 minute flight I’m back in the land of good biscuits, better tea and lots of friendly faces.
Over and out!
I can’t quite believe my whole year abroad is over and done with but I also definitely can! Leaving Utrecht felt completely different to when I left Berlin in December last year. It was easier to leave in many ways and I was happy that I knew I’d be moving back to Berlin straight after. But this time, I really felt like I’d finished a book and was putting it back on the shelf. I really got a sense of closure and finality to the whole experience and I’m really grateful for that. I’m looking forward to reflecting on my year abroad over the next few months and even years to work out exactly what I’ve taken away from it and learn from every exciting and challenging moment.
So how was it really?
The sparkly blog posts about how amazing the year abroad was disappeared after a while and I think that’s really telling. Realistically, a year abroad is a massive upheaval with little longevity and many little temporary jobs, flats, bikes and even friendships in some cases. But that was also kind-of why it was so great. Throughout my year abroad I constantly knew and reminded myself that I probably would never have this level of freedom and selfishness in my life again. Wanting to go to Poland at the weekend? Okay then just go! I’m a real planner, I’ve never been that spontaneous and so in some ways the YA was a real challenge, trying to find new jobs or flats on the spot or having to deal with so many uncertainties. But this year I was forced to learn how to deal with unexpected situations which I think in the long-term will prove itself to be worth it’s weight in gold.
Semester 1: Berlin
I undoubtably enjoyed my first semester in Berlin more than my seccond, in short I think this was to do with a lot of different things, these being mainly: having a job I really enjoyed, being based there longer and so having more opportunity to settle, being in a big city which always has something to do, finding some really close friends, having a nice flat and finally, the weather being a lot better! This semester taught me a lot of transferable work skills and helped me to think about my future, it was definitely responsible for me starting my quest for a master’s course in Germany for autumn 2020.
Semester 2: Utrecht
I actually loved Utrecht University. The courses and staff were great and I relished the opportunity to study something completely different. Making friends was easier here due to the large number of international students and the language pressure eased off. The downside was that I felt Utrecht was too small, the accommodation wasn’t great (and that’s being kind!) and I did struggle to find people with similar interests there as me (I grew out of the Erasmus ‘drink, drank and get drunk’ pretty quickly). A completely different experience than my first semester but still an enjoyable one.
I think I had an amazing year abroad upon reflection. It was a really realistic year abroad as I had highs and lows and managed to do a uni placement and work placement in 2 countries. I’m really glad I split my YA between 2 countries as it really challenged me, kept me on my toes and was ultimately extremely rewarding. I’m completely exhausted after the past year but I think that shows I gave it my all and I’m looking forward to being based in Berlin and Sheffield from now on, both places which I really feel at home in. If I were to do it again, (which right now I wouldn’t haha!) then I wouldn’t change where I went or what I did. The most valuable thing I did during my YA was my work placement and would really recommend anyone in Level 2 to think about doing one too, it’s hard work but really pays off.