Learning abroad: language barriers and a suntan

Taking a break on one of Malta’s beaches – Shaunie Shan

October’s Feature asked students to tell Aber Student Media about any advice, work experience, years in employment and years abroad they may have had as part of their course.

Employability is of course one of the main reasons we are all at university. We’ve all read the leaflets, heard the talks from the Careers office and possibly looked up options on line, but we thought it best to let you hear from people who’ve been there and done it.   

I AM A PSYCHOLOGY and Criminology student and will be in my third year when I come back from my year out studying in Malta. It being 50% of my overall degree, the pressure is on to get it right.

I applied through the Erasmus programme and chose Malta from the list as it was the hottest place! My Psychology Department were the ones who allowed me to go and arranged everything for me. They have been so helpful and until recently have been checking that everything is going well. It’s a slightly different case with the International Office in Aberystwyth, who were supposed to be checking on me and whether I arrived safely, which they haven’t yet. Although, in some ways this has made me feel a lot more independent.

It’s been great exploring a new culture, making friends and soaking up some sun. As well as just having a change from the norm, especially since Aberystwyth is brilliant but quite small, so life can get a bit repetitive. However, there is always the downside of missing the home comforts of Aberystwyth as well as adapting to the way things work here. Registering for modules is a nightmare here and takes a week. You can also feel more alone and obviously there are language barriers. Everyone speaks English but there are different accents and sometimes varying understandings of what a word means! Our University residence is an international complex. It’s more expensive but the different languages can make it more fun and interesting. It’s also very sociable, so I might end up being distracted from work!

I do think studying here will improve my chances of finding a job, as it gives me a slight edge compared to other people. Although I don’t think it will matter much unless I pick up the language. Travel alone isn’t enough these days, you need more than that.