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Sophie Hayes


Course studied: BA (Hons) Spanish and International Relations

United Kingdom
During my year abroad, I definitely improved my language skills. Being located in a city where very few people speak English meant I had to practise my Spanish.

More about Sophie

What do you enjoy most about your course at NTU?

"I particularly like being able to tailor the course to my interests. Being able to choose which modules I want to study makes it more enjoyable as I am studying topics that I have a genuine interest in."

What do you think about the course staff – include lecturers, tutors, administrators and technical staff within this. How do they support your learning and University experience?

"I think the course staff have been invaluable to me at university. I find it very useful when learning a language that I am being taught by native speakers who are able to provide expert knowledge and a real flavour of the language. I have found they are all very friendly and more than happy to help when you don’t understand something. My tutor is very approachable and has really helped me stay on track throughout the duration of my time at university."

What advice would you give to prospective students who are considering applying for your course?

"Spanish is a fantastic language to learn as it is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. It doesn’t matter what level of experience of the language that you have, as it’s something you can pick up at a beginner level or continue to study if you have done so previously. The course offers a great opportunity to spend a year in a Spanish speaking country, where you have the chance to improve your language skills and meet lots of new people."

Could you please explain more about your year abroad, and what you did during this time?

"I spent my year abroad in a Spanish overseas territory called Ceuta which is situated on the north coast of Morocco. During this time, I completed a teaching placement as an English Language Assistant at a bilingual primary school. I worked for 12 hours a week where it was my responsibility to help deliver English classes on a range of topics including Ancient Egypt and the rainforest."

How did you go about attaining this placement?

"I applied for this placement through the British Council. The first step was to submit an application explaining why I thought I would be good for this role. Next, I had the option to choose three regions that I would most liked to be placed and what age group I would like to teach. The British Council then found me a school based on those preferences and notified me of all the details."

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

"The most interesting aspect of my year abroad was definitely my location. At first, I was a little apprehensive to be going to Africa but it turned out to be a thoroughly enriching experience. The city that I was based in had a very different type of culture to what you would expect to find on the mainland. With a mix of both Spanish and Moroccan citizens, their way of life was very interesting to see. For example, every day, there would be thousands of Moroccans who cross the border to come and work in Ceuta, mostly women who worked as housekeepers. It was fascinating to see the Arabic influences on the Spanish way of life and after visiting both rural and urban areas of Morocco, some of the impact Spain has had on the Arabic way of life."

What skills have you gained by completing this placement?

"During my year abroad, I definitely improved my language skills. Being located in a city where very few people speak English meant I had to practise my Spanish. Also, as a teacher I built up my confidence of having to speak in front of a large group of people, as every day I was having to speak to a class of about 25. I think it has helped my inter-personal skills as I met lots of new people who I had to build a relationship with, whether that was my students, colleagues or friends."

How will these skills enhance your employability for your chosen career?

"Having the confidence to speak in front of a large group of people could be very beneficial in my career, if I have to present an idea or give a presentation on a certain topic. Also, I think I am now able to approach new people with ease which will help me when meeting new colleagues and prospective employers as I have had experience with a wide range of people."

How do you feel you’ve developed as a person during your year abroad?

"I feel I have become a better-rounded individual since my year abroad. Living in Ceuta opened my eyes to somewhere that I originally had limited knowledge about. I think I have become more perceptive of other peoples values and ways of life. I think that working with children was incredibly rewarding as I have made an impact on their education and helped them to learn something new. I also feel much more prepared for the world of work as I gained many skills and have become much more focused."

Could you sum up your NTU experience in 3 words?

"Challenging yet rewarding."

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