If you’re a die-hard wanderlust and can’t imagine spending your full university experience in one city, a sandwich degree might be the perfect choice for you! It’s a degree programme that’s 4 years long, including a year of work experience in a relevant industry in the 3rd year. In my case, I studied Public Relations at Bournemouth University, and was lucky enough to get a work placement abroad with PVH (Tommy Hilfiger & Calvin Klein), in Amsterdam! Looking back, it was definitely one of my best life experiences to date, for many reasons, but I’m going try my hardest to whittle it down to just 4.
If you’ve been thinking about taking a sandwich degree and completing your work placement abroad, keep reading to get that final push to turn your dream into a reality!
You’ll find the independence you’ve been longing for
Of course, leaving your hometown to go to university in another city requires some level of independence. But with home just being one train or drive away, it’s very easy to fall back on the dependence you’re used to. Working abroad throws you into the deep end yes, but isn’t that how you learn the limits of your strengths?
In Amsterdam, the most popular method of transport is traveling by bike (an ‘omafiets’ to be exact). When there, I had to face my fears of riding beside cars, tackle my terrible sense of direction and just throw myself into the new mode of transport if I ever wanted to get anywhere on time. I had my fair share of getting lost, accidents, stolen bikes, forgetting where I parked my bike, buying faulty bikes from dishonest sellers and the list goes on. But guess what, in the end getting around by bike was one of the things I missed the most when I came back home. I said all of that to say, working abroad pushed me beyond the limits I had initially placed on myself, taught me that I was stronger than I thought and that once I tackle my fears I can not only get past them, but I can boss them too. Overcoming fears, being resilient and calm under pressure are essential skills in personal and professional life. Want these in the bag? Work abroad!
Exploring neighbouring countries
When you’re working abroad there’s no limit to where you can explore – especially in Europe! You’ll have the opportunity to see all there is to offer in your new city, and with other countries, just a stone’s throw away, you can make the most of cheaper flights and tick more places off your travel list. When in Amsterdam I traveled to a few other cities in the Netherlands like Haarlem and Rotterdam – Some of my friends even ventured to Antwerp, Belgium to make the most of the Christmas Markets in Winter too.
You’ll become more cultured
Yup, you’ll be exposed to new languages, social atmospheres, and cultural perspectives, giving you an authentic insight into the traditions and lived experience of the locals in your new city. I for one, had a skewed perception of Amsterdam before I went there. I’d only heard of the coffee shops and infamous red light district, but after living there for 10 months, it was clear that this small city had a fascinating culture that ran deeper than it’s hedonistic reputation. It’s a city rife with creativity and culture, from the buzzing music scene, to streets filled with orange on King’s Day in spring, boat rides on the canals in summer and quirky vintage shops brimming with all the affordable clothes a fashion loving student could only dream of.
You’ll appear more desirable to future employers
Research has shown that 41% of employers are more inclined to offer higher salaries to students that have worked experience abroad and 23.3% would select the candidate who studied abroad when debating between two potential hires? Working abroad during your placement year shows potential employers, once you’ve graduated, that you’re confident with meeting new people, adaptable in new environments, and eager and open to new working structures! Making you an overall desirable and well-rounded prospect to have on their team. Win, win!
If you were on the fence about going abroad for work experience, I hope this post has helped you to take the leap and go for it! You have more to gain than to lose, and you’ll definitely walk away with a life experience that you’ll live to remember. So go on, reach out to your university work placement advisor, and ask about the best route to take to get yourself out there.
Words by Barri Brown