What I learnt on the year abroad...apart from German and Italian.

Just Go for it
The first thing they tell you is to make the most of every opportunity. Annoying as it sounds it’s really useful advice. So, after having followed this for a year now, when my boyfriend asked me to go to Asia with him this summer, I decided to just go for it. Despite a). never having left Europe before and b). the mammoth task of planning and booking everything.  (and the fact I wanted to go to Marrakech this summer but hey). But I just realised that’s there’s not going to be many more summers where I can swan off for a month or have enough savings (thank god for the British Council paying us a proper wage).

Couldn't miss this opportunity!

What you don’t need to spend money on
Clothes, shoes, bags *insert any other material thing here* - it’s just stuff that I won’t be able to fit back into my suitcase at the end of the year! But seriously though, I’ve come to realise that experiences are waay better than things and money doesn’t grow on trees so if I want to do all that travelling and eating out #professionalbruncher (food is totally an experience ok?) I have to not spend money on other things. It gets easier trust me.
Would much rather spend money on this!

Be more confident
Turning up alone to meet a whole bunch of people you don’t know? Probably the worst thing I can think of. But being in a country on your own, I had no other choice. So I had to man up and go meet random Italians off the internet (it was a website called conversation exchange btw so not anything weird). The more I did it the easier it became and although I’m always going to be a quiet, shy person, I don’t avoid those kind of situations so much anymore. I even put myself forward for the German committee this year at Uni- something I really wouldn’t have done before this year. Also, standing up in front of a group of teenagers trying to teach them english: Terrifying…. at first, but the more I did it, the more I got used to it and realised that they weren’t actually going to eat me and that it was actually pretty fun.

What it means to be British and how to accept other cultures
It’s not just that I like milk with my tea and think Cadburys is the best chocolate in the world. Oh no there’s much more to British culture than that. it’s our way of being inherently awkward without trying, the way we like to say sorry…for anything and everything and how even the briefest glimpse of sun = summer so naturally you gotta get them shorts on and your cute summer dress and find whatever patch of green space you can to “work on your tan” (even though it’s not even like 20 degrees). But then when it is actually summer, you’ll moan about it being too hot (throwback to me in Vienna when it was 30+ degrees and I was pining for the sweet smell of rain!).

Was sooo hot!
Being away from it all really puts it into perspective, so that when that snooty Viennese waiter in the bow tie nonchalantly looks past you for the 20th time , and when you do manage to order he makes some sarcastic comment, you know he’s not actually being snooty or rude he’s just being a Viennese waiter. Ie. Don’t take it personally, it’s just how they are here.

Or when the woman on the checkout chucks your shopping through the scanner at lightning speed, then somehow expects you to pay, while simultaneously packing your bag so that she can start with the next customer (which they will do anyway regardless), you know to chuck your stuff back into the basket so you can take it over to the tables by the door and pack it away (in the bag you brought with you) in a calm and sensible manner without squashing your fruit.

How to survive in Austria? Sorted!
Key to survival -  Radler obvs!
and cake!!
What I might want to do/not want to do in the future           
Working this year has really helped me understand what I enjoy doing and what I really don’t. Being sat on my bum for 8 hours straight in an office: not fun. Staring at a screen all day: also not fun. Translating: not the glamorous job I had envisaged. Teaching: Rewarding, interesting but being a “proper” teacher (come on I worked 13 hours a week) stressful! This year, I’ve also really got back into writing after starting this blog (although I’ve been a bit naughty and not posted much whilst being in Vienna). I’ve also written a couple of articles here and there for websites like Thirdyearabroad.com (essential for anyone going on a year abroad), so maybe I want to do something writing-related after Uni? I feel like people usually just pigeon-hole us linguists into so do you want to be a translator or a teacher? But I now realize there are plenty more options out there.

International friends
I think this is possibly one of the best things about the whole year. Making friends from different countries, is not only so interesting  but also means you get to go and visit them in their home town= win. (and a cheap holiday!). And you get to play tour guide for them too! Even meeting people from different parts of the UK has been awesome.

An incessant desire to travel
I always knew I liked travelling. Just going to a new city would make my heart beat fast , eager to explore everything new. But this year, this year has really done it. Never have I been to so many countries in one year, actually I’ve never been to so many countries in my entire life.

France (Strasbourg)

Germany (Mainz)
Italy (Milan)
Austria (Innsbruck)
Switzerland (Zurich)

Czech Republic (Prague) 
Hungary (Budapest)
Slovakia (Bratislava)

There’s no way I can go back to England and not have itchy feet!

So there you have it, a year abroad will teach you so much more than just the language. In fact, in some cases you might find yourself not speaking much of the language you came to learn ahem. EveryonespeaksenglishinVienna cough. And although I kind of regret this, because my Italian is waaay better than my German, I still learnt so much from my experience in Vienna. Not to mention all the fun I had in the process. 

Yay for the year abroad!