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So, what’s next?

22 June 2017

And we’re done! As of 2nd June 2017, I have finished my year abroad. Having first left for Belgium on 25th August 2017, I have spent a little over nine months and two weeks living abroad. Undoubtedly, the Year abroad is a worthwhile experience, regardless of where you do it, you will see places you would have never seen and meet people whom you would have never have met otherwise. Some my highlights while living abroad include visits to France, The Netherlands, Germany and Sweden; seeing the “Fallas” in Valencia (a festival which takes place in March); and visiting Toledo and other historical places within Spain. Now, the logical question is “What happens next?”

On the 9th of June I took a 10 day tour around Spain and Portugal, experiencing some places I did not get the opportunity to visit whilst I was living there. The first stop was Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia. This was a wonderful place, it had very unique architectural style, as well as Celtic connections to Brittany and Wales! Additionally, it is the last major stop on the Camino de Santiago, one of the religious pilgrimages that Christians, but especially Catholic Christians, make during their lives. Then I went to Porto in the north of Portugal and Lisbon, its capital city. Both are very beautiful, each having their own quirks and atmosphere –  I was very lucky to have visited during the period of the national celebrations as all of the locals were very proud of their country!

A street party in Lisbon

Next was Seville, a beautiful city in the south of Spain, but in my opinion, becoming very touristy – American companies everywhere!

(Clockwise from the left) Seville Cathedral, Plaza de España and Metropol Parasol

Finally, upon the Iberian Peninsula, I visited Melissa in Granada. Granada is a great place with a great student-y vibe, as well as beautiful views. Once again, I was lucky enough to visit during the time of the festivals – a park is full of tents which play music, people dance, there are food stalls and rides etc. – a great time!

(Clockwise from the left), a selfie from the Cuevas in Granada, The Alhambra and the Carnaval in Granada

Right now, I am sitting in the airport, since on 22nd June, I will be moving to Lyon in France, having been offered a summer job working for an insurance company, dealing with French and British customers. I’m looking forward to this as I can further improve my French, being able to use it in a real-world, working environment. As a piece of advice, it is always useful to get as much work experience as possible to put on your CV, as employers consider this just as much as grades during the recruitment process. I still have not found a place to stay out there, but as I have been lucky enough to easily find houses in Brussels and Ciudad Real, I’m sure France will not pose much of an issue either.

In September, I will be moving back to the UK, and then to Cardiff, in order to finish the final year of my degree. As you can imagine, the final year will be rather intense and require a lot of hard work, especially difficult after having spent a year making the most of what Europe has to offer!

As for after my degree, I am currently not sure. I am fully considering a Master’s in International Relations, and I am preferably looking to do it in France, Belgium or the Netherlands – I feel like this would be a natural next-step after my languages degree and living in The Netherlands I could improve on the Dutch I have slowly been learning since leaving Belgium. If not, I am considering some Master’s programmes in the UK, but unfortunately not in Cardiff as I would like to live in another city to complete my studies.

In terms of a career, I still have no idea. I have many ideas floating around in my head, but as I am only 21 at the moment, I do not want to commit to anything – yet!

If you have any more questions about my future plans, and progress, don’t hesitate to write a comment below – it’s always great to read your messages.

That’s all for now,

Liam Barrett