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Matthew Hepburn


United Kingdom
My year abroad experience has made me more confident and independent as I had to live out of my comfort zone, and I was able to overcome challenges along the way.

More about Matthew

What made you choose to study at NTU?

“I liked the relaxed atmosphere of the campus and the friendliness of the staff. Also, the opportunity to study abroad in my third year was something that, although daunting, really appealed to me. I knew that it would be a unique opportunity and very few people get the chance to live abroad as part of their course.”

What do you enjoy most about your course?

“My course at NTU enables me to study a broad range of topics, all of which feed into each other and enhance my learning experience. I enjoy the broad range of topics we study, they are all really interesting and thought-provoking.”

What do you think about the course staff?

“I have to say, I cannot find any fault with my lecturers. They are always on-hand if you need help and advice. You can drop them an email or see them in their office without a problem. They respond quickly to queries and they are always happy to arrange to meet up and discuss anything. Their feedback on work is quick, detailed and constructed.

I find them really approachable and friendly and I love their passion and enthusiasm for the subjects they teach. It really makes the topics more interesting and valuable when your lecturer is enthusiastic about it because it rubs off on you.”

What do you think about the University facilities?

“The Clifton Campus is a great place to study and the facilities are great. The library, for me, is an easy and practical environment to work in. The library staff are helpful and deal with all queries.”

In a nutshell, why would you recommend your course / NTU to someone looking to study BA (Hons) French and European Studies?

“NTU is a great place to study and I am so pleased I chose to come here. If you want a friendly, supportive and kind environment, NTU is definitely the place to come to.”

Can you tell us more about your year abroad in France?

“I went to the Université de Franche-Comté in Besançon, France for nine months. I studied a combination of subjects, including a French language module for Erasmus exchange students that was really useful. It involved French presentations, and grammar work and article reading. I also did a French language course designed purely for native French students who needed to improve their French. I learnt a lot about French and how French people learn their language. We were also taught to slow our French down so that we could be better understood. Finally, I also took translation classes which involved translating from English to French and vice versa.”

Can you tell us about the type of support you received from the institutions?

“My exchange coordinator at the Université de Franche-Comté was amazing. She was so helpful throughout my time in France and was always available if I needed her. I received regular emails from NTU asking how I was getting on. I knew that if I had a major issue, I could just email or phone them. I also received an Erasmus grant that arrived in my bank before leaving for France. I received more when I returned to the UK too.”

What was the most interesting / enjoyable aspect of your time abroad and why?

“The most enjoyable part of it was simply being abroad. It was just the small things that made it enjoyable. Life was different and interesting, and I learnt new things every day, including new French phrases. I loved travelling and exploring the region and towns. My year abroad experience has made me more confident and independent as I had to live out of my comfort zone, and I was able to overcome challenges along the way.”

What skills have you gained from this experience, and how will these skills enhance your employability for your chosen career?

“This experience has made me appreciate that my personal strengths outweigh my weaknesses, and that I can do far more than I give myself credit for. I’ve learnt not to be so harsh on myself and to accept that mistakes happen, especially when learning a language. My problem solving skills, confidence and social skills have all improved since being abroad.”

What advice would you give to future exchange students?

“Do your research and homework before. Learn about the area and the University and ask if you can see yourself there. Don’t just go somewhere because it seems closer to home or all your friends are going there. Go somewhere different. Experience something new.

“Most importantly, when you’re there, take each day as it comes. Embrace the challenges and solve them but don’t take it too seriously. It’s an adventure. You will return home feeling far prouder of yourself knowing that you did everything you could and you didn’t give up. Also, acknowledge that you will miss home and your friends. Find home comforts and remind yourself that it’s all part of your year abroad story.”

Why would you recommend going on exchange to other students?

“I’d definitely recommend going on exchange. The year abroad is not just about learning a language, it’s also about your personal development. You’ll learn to spend less time focusing on everything you can’t do, and more time appreciating everything you have achieved and can achieve.”

Choosing just one subject to study at university can be a challenge! If you’re stuck weighing up different subjects, a joint honours course could be the ideal solution!

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