I grew up on Teesside and after my GCSEs I chose to study A level Geography, Spanish, and English Literature at a nearby sixth form college.
I knew that I wanted to continue with my education at a higher level and had always enjoyed languages, so this seemed the natural progression for me. I visited lots of open days at universities across the country and researched each course to find one I liked best. It was important to me that I liked the city I’d be living in and whilst I wanted to live away from home, being able to travel back and forth easily was also a priority. When visiting different campuses, I preferred those that were close to the city centre and had everything within walking distance as it would be easy to find my way around.
After a few separate visit days to get a feel for the campus and its surroundings, I decided upon Newcastle University. I chose to study BA Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies because I’d always wanted to learn new languages and this gave me the opportunity to learn Portuguese. During my first year I lived in halls on campus which was really handy as everything from the library, to university buildings, and even the main city centre, was no more than a ten minute walk. This meant that by the time I finished first year I knew my way around and living slightly further out in the following years was no trouble!
During semester one of my first year, I worked part time in a retail store where I returned for the duration of my second year. This was something that I really enjoyed as it not only helped me financially, but allowed me to learn new skills and develop outside of my university course. It can be difficult at times to balance a job with studying, so it’s important to consider what works best and choose a job that can be flexible around university.
The best thing about my course was the opportunity to go abroad in my third year. Although at first it was daunting to find different placements and plan what I wanted to do, I chose to work in Alicante, Spain and then study in Lisbon at Universidade de Lisboa. My semester working in Alicante at an English Language School was invaluable; I got to work using Spanish on a daily basis, get experience of teaching English to students of different ages, and develop administration skills. Living independently in another country was challenging at times but it was interesting to immerse myself in a new culture and way of life. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, my time in Lisbon was cut short from 6 months to 2! However, despite this I managed to get a glimpse of the Portuguese university experience and fit in lots of sightseeing around the city, including discovering my new favourite snack: Pastel de Nata, a traditional Portuguese custard tart!
When I started university I wasn’t sure what career I wanted to pursue, but studying languages has given me a range of knowledge and skills as well as the confidence to get involved in new experiences.
My number one piece of advice would be to say yes to opportunities, you never know where they’ll take you!
I hope you’ve enjoyed finding out more about my journey through Higher Education, have a look at our other blog posts to discover the rest of the team!