‘Doing a Year Abroad is Enriching – It Teaches you so Much about yourself’

Anna Spencer is studying BSc International Business with a Year Abroad. She joined the University of Kent in 2019 and is coming to the end of an academic year taken at the University of Korea in Seoul, South Korea.

“One of my favourite moments so far has to be a recent festival where international students got to showcase things about their home countries. It was incredible walking around this huge event and seeing cultures that come together at one university. I felt so privileged to be learning amongst such a diverse group of students.

I chose to study a Year Abroad when I first applied for my course. Hailing from London, I have grown up in a cultural melting pot and a big bustling city. Canterbury, in some essences, was the antithesis of this with its green, peaceful leafy campus. I felt that a year in a foreign city and all it had to offer would provide a great balance for my four-year degree.

Applying for a place in South Korea, I’d heard positive things, that the people were welcoming, and the city of Seoul was becoming hugely metropolitan and exciting. I felt going further away, to a culture that was very different from my own, would be hugely character building, too.

The system here is also slightly different, in terms of the modules I could study. As well as my business topics I was able to take modules in literature and media, an appealing offer when I really want to get into book publishing one day!

Anna at Gyeongbokgung Palace wearing traditional Hanbok

My first day was daunting, but I was eased in carefully by staff at the university. Luckily for me, lessons are taught in English, but I made it my mission to understand the language (which has a different alphabet to ours) before I arrived, so I could easily navigate life outside of university.

Instagram and TikTok were lifelines before I got to Korea, there are so many videos that enable you to understand the culture before you leave your home country. I spent my evenings watching clips with titles like Ten Things not to do in Korea or Tips for a Foreigner Coming to Seoul to get real advice from people with lived experience. I felt very lucky to be in an environment that is so well connected.

Starting in a new city, a new country and surrounded by strangers was by no means easy. As a survival instinct I just went out of my way to say hi everyone and made as many friends as I could, it certainly helped stave off home sickness! People here have been so welcoming; I couldn’t ask for nicer students and staff to work alongside.

As well as building my academic knowledge, the biggest gain from this year has been interpersonal skills. I feel like the experience has made me more empathetic and understanding, particularly to international students and how they feel at Kent.  I have also built a resilience I didn’t know I had.

If you have a passion for travelling and for new and interesting things, doing a Year Abroad is for you. It is such an enriching experience, and it teaches you so much about yourself.”

For more information on our Year Abroad options at the University of Kent, visit Study abroad – Go Abroad – University of Kent

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