The Year Abroad dilemma: Work vs Study

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By Clem Mockett, Fourth Year Spanish

The Croft Magazine // Planning where to go on your year abroad can be a difficult decision but knowing what you are going to do when you get there, is even harder! Having both worked and studied in Spain, Clem Mockett considers the pros and cons of both.

WORKING

I worked for 6 months in Madrid at Hola! magazine. I was fortunate to have landed what is essentially my ‘dream job’. Working at a magazine, discussing Meghan Markle’s outfits all day, as well as speaking loads of Spanish!

The rooftops of Madrid | Epigram / Clem Mockett

Pros

1.     If you manage to land a great internship abroad, it is a fantastic way to boost your CV and saves having to spend your summers interning at home. Most internships in Spain are paid, albeit minimal, but it can be the difference between spending a weekend on the Spanish coast or not!

2.     After two years of studying, and being left to your own devices, I found that working in a team was incredibly rewarding, it provided a sense of responsibility and achievement.

3.     I was fortunate that I met lots of really interesting Spaniards at work. Wherever you go, you will find a diverse group of people, and even if you are perhaps not loving the rest of your social life/accommodation, going into the office each morning and having someone greet you with ‘buenos días’ can lift your mood!

Cons

1.     One thing that I struggled with when I started working, was the lack of free time. I couldn’t make that 2pm gym class or just go for a long weekend somewhere.

2.     With regards to socialising, you are slightly left to your own devices. Whilst my office was a really fun and friendly place, the average age was about 40. There is no ‘freshers week’ or people forcing you to go to a ‘wavy shirt night’ at bunker, instead I had endless conversations about my colleague’s child’s school play…

Gardens in Zaragoza | Epigram / Clem Mockett

STUDYING

I spent 6 months studying at La Universidad de Zaragoza. I went by myself but was put in contact with another fellow Bristol Spanish student.

Pros

1.     In comparison to working, you have endless free time! We went on trips to Bilbao, Barcelona and Madrid due to the flexibility of the university (and lack of contact hours!).

2.     One thing that I wasn’t aware of when I left for my year abroad was that I was able to study any subject that I desired. My term in Zaragoza therefore consisted of a mixture of History of Art and Economics which was a great opportunity to study subjects that I hadn’t previously been exposed to at Bristol.

3.     Unlike with working, the Erasmus programme is excellent at providing ‘forced fun’. There are endless opportunities to meet other international students and to replicate all your favourite nights at la Rocca and Bunker.

Cons

1.     There is no denying that parts of your year abroad can be hard and often very lonely. It sometimes feels strange that all of your friends and family are back home. It can be especially hard if you aren’t living in halls surrounded by people and have nothing to really wake up for. I would advise trying to go to all of your lectures and to make an effort to explore your surroundings.

2.     The Spanish University system is manic and extremely disorganised. However, once you get past the first 2 weeks of making your own timetable and figuring out where buildings are (from a hand-drawn map!), it all becomes easier as a routine is established.

Studying in Spain on my year abroad offered me a great deal of independence, free time to socialise and also explore Spanish cities. However, in my opinion despite having to work harder on your social life, the rewarding nature of a structured working week at a job that I loved was more beneficial for me, especially in the long term.

Featured Image: Epigram / Clem Mockett


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