Category Archives: Student stories

Find out about the experience of other Sheffield Hallam students studying or working abroad. Plus useful information to help you prepare for your own experience abroad.

Camilla Hurley – Studied and worked in Spain

Camilla studied at Universidad de Oviedo for 1 semester, she then completed her work placement with TUI Travel in Palma de Mallorca.

“Studying and working abroad was the best experience ever and choosing to do my degree at Hallam was the best decision ever made.  Studying International Business with Spanish has allowed me to spend 18 months in Spain as part of my degree.

Before I moved abroad I was very nervous and I had no idea what to expect as I had never even to Spain before.  However, as soon as I got there I was having such an amazing time meeting people from all over the world.  There was nothing to worry or be concerned about because it was a new experience for everyone there.  Returning back to England after the full 18 months was a bit strange, after spending so long as part of another culture you will pick up mannerisms from that Country.

Generally the University system with regards to lectures and seminars is the same in both the UK and Spain, however, the grading system is slightly different.  All of my classes were in Spanish so at first it was a slight challenge but after a while it all became that little bit easier.

The working culture in Spain is a lot more laid back that it is here in the UK.  Everyone is so friendly and willing to help you with whatever worry or doubt you may have.  I made friends from all over the work and also of all different ages.  Working in Spain is a lot different than in the UK and it is something that you need to adapt to in order to make the most out of the experience.”


Rochelle MacKenzie-McQueen – Erasmus exchange

Rochelle MacKenzie-McQueen

The exchange is a great way to make one’s CV more attractive to prospective employers and to stand out from the crowd. This is due to the wide range of valuable life and education skills that you gain.

Rochelle MacKenzie-McQueen, Studied LLB Maîtrise en Droit Français at Université de Paris-Est Créteil, France

“I chose to study at Sheffield Hallam University because of my course which not only gave me the opportunity to study LLB Law but also allowed me to spend two years in Paris, obtaining fluency in French and an M1 in French law.  For me, the Erasmus programme was a part of my course, but had it not been compulsory, I would still have chosen to take part.

The exchange proved invaluable in helping me to develop my language skills. I am now more confident in my ability to speak French and have learn various slang words and local dialect which have helped me to better understand the language. Without the exchange, I would not have been able to do this.

My Erasmus experience also helped me to develop skills such as managing heavy workloads and finding new ways to study.  I became more independent through the experience of living and studying abroad. Although I have lived abroad before, this was the first time when I had to be truly independent. I had to learn how to do things such as open a bank account where the system was completely different.

I would definitely recommend taking part in the Erasmus exchange to other students. In my opinion, there is no better way to learn about different cultures and (where applicable) languages. I also developed a great deal academically.

The exchange is a great way to make one’s CV more attractive to prospective employers and to stand out from the crowd. This is due to the wide range of valuable life and education skills that you gain.

I feel that I learnt more about myself in the nine months that I spent abroad than I have during the past three years of university.

Erasmus exceeded my expectations!”

Mitesh Mistry – Erasmus exchange

The Erasmus exchange programme went beyond my expectations. I made new friends from France, Mexico, United States and China – all of whom I stillMitesh Mistry keep in contact today. I met and worked alongside some of the world’s most distinguished academics, politicians and leaders in the global arena. I got the opportunity to travel across the Netherlands and experience a different lifestyle.

Mitesh Mistry, Studied BA Hons Politics at The Hague University, the Netherlands

“I decided to undertake the Erasmus exchange programme because it was too good an opportunity to turn down. Being able to live abroad, study at a foreign institution and meet people from across the world seemed like an exciting prospect and I benefited greatly from doing this in terms of my academic, professional and personal development.  I had to adapt quite quickly in order to get going with studying in a foreign learning environment.  Working with students from other countries also helped me to become better at communication. I acquired a placement at the Embassy of the Dominican Republic which definitely helped me to develop my communication, interpersonal, leadership and decision making skills.  I never thought I would be able to undertake a placement whilst I was there – by doing this I proved to myself more than anyone that I could succeed in this field of work – one that I thoroughly enjoyed.

The Erasmus programme allowed me to step outside my comfort zone, living, working and studying in a foreign country. Before taking up this opportunity, I would have never considered going abroad to seek employment. Now I can’t wait to graduate and find out what opportunities are waiting for me in the international political arena.

I would definitely recommend taking part in Erasmus. Living and studying abroad was such a great experience mostly because I learnt a lot about myself and what I was capable of.

Erasmus defined 2013 for me and is an experience I will never forget! The people I met, the friends I made and the Diplomats I worked alongside all made this seven month extravaganza a phenomenal experience. I would recommend this to everyone! It was truly a remarkable experience.”

Hannah Gaunt – teaching abroad

Hannah Gaunt, Final year student in Sports Coaching, Sheffield Hallam University

“I learnt how to be innovative and my confidence grew so much because of this experience. I believe it makes me stand out and along with my other scHannah Gaunthool experience contributed to succeeding in gaining a teach
er training year.

I have been studying sport since college and will continue my studies when I graduate to train to be a teacher. I have volunteered at many events, including sports days, coaching and giving presentations on my time in Tanzania.

I spent 2 months in Tanzania and I got this opportunity through the University. It was a formal application process and I was selected to go. I was a sports coach to an under 16’s girls’ football team, a teacher in colleges and schools and helped in the community with HIV awareness.

My most memorable experience was turning up to teach at a college. We were never told how many people would be there or what we would be doing until the day. When we arrived and got to class there were 98 students which 4 of us had to teach. They didn’t speak much English and didn’t always want to input so it was very challenging. I learnt how to be innovative and my confidence grew so much because of this experience. The hardest thing for me was the realisation of how much I take for granted. Some of the children I worked with had very little but were still the happiest children I have ever taught or come across. The experience taught me to be thankful for everything I have and to respect and value people a lot more.

The best thing about the experience was seeing the children’s faces every day when we turned up to coach or at school. They were always so happy to see you and never wanted us to leave. The worst thing about the experience was probably being away from my family although at the time I wanted to stay longer and wouldn’t change one minute of the trip.

The experience has given me so much confidence and passion in what I do and what I want to achieve. I learnt how to live in a completely different culture for 2 months and adapted to their way of living. I gathered so many new idea about running lessons, games and how to communicate effectively when you are faced with challenges such as language barrier.

I feel more motivated to achieve the things I want to achieve and I strongly believe that this experience has made me more employable as I have developed a range of skills that are essential in teaching jobs. I believe that this experience makes me stand out and along with my other school experience contributed to succeeding in gaining a teacher training year.

If I were to give advice to anyone who was planning to volunteer, I would say to do as much as you can while you are out there in order to gain the most from the experience. If you go in half-heartedly then you will not develop as a person and learn new skills.”

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Oli Porter – Working Abroad

My advice to anyone contemplating doing something like this is: do it! Get there as soon as you can. Africa is a fantastic place: the people are so friendly and will help you with anything. I would love to go back and see how sustainable my projects have become in the community. It is an experience of a lifetime and a memory you will never forget.

Having the opportunity to have my university work placement in Tanzania has made me more self-assured about applying for sports teacher jobs in the future, developing my personal and professional skills.

I spent two months coaching rugby and football teams in a variety of age groups in Arusha. I was with a group of other students, also from Sheffield Hallam University and we would spend most of our time within the community.

I visited orphanages, primary, secondary and disabled schools in the area, introducing mini activities and coaching multi-skill and fundamental sessions in a variety of sports. I also coached sport sessions in international schools around Arusha throughout the eight weeks, as well as leading HIV/AIDS Awareness sessions, hosting leadership programmes and teaching

The work placement was fantastic, I was able to meet new people and enhance many of my skills. I had the opportunity to go on safari, go to Zanzibar (an island off the east coast) perform for Arusha’s first team and much more.

The hardest part of my trip was that I had to leave; it’s safe to say I caught the Africa bug, I loved my experiences there and I made some great friends who I really want to see again.

The best thing about it was the challenge; I was in a country I had never been before, with very little knowledge of Swahili. I had to push myself to ensure that I got the most out of the opportunity and was able to develop my skills. I feel like the trip enhanced my cultural awareness and my independence hugely.

Having this Tanzania experience written on my CV and having worked with a variety of different organisations, any application I make for future roles would instantly stand out as distinctive and unique.

Oli Porter is a final year student on the Sport Development with Coaching degree. He spent eight weeks in Tanzania working at a school as a sports coach with young people.

Michael Overton – working abroad

Michael Overton is studying for a BSc. in Geography at Sheffield Hallam University

“There is no doubt that any experience working towards a goal in a foreign country will benefit me in this career choice.

Michael Overton

I am a final year Geography student at Sheffield Hallam, director of my start-up company Sealsafe Ltd., a qualified pilot, parachutist & diver, an Army Reservist, experienced traveller and writer.

I have worked on yachts in the Middle East, trained and managed sales teams in Australia, climbed remote peaks in Central Africa, Borneo, Nepal & New Zealand, picked up duck eggs & fixed tractors in Lincolnshire, video recorded shelling on Syrian towns, worked in a casino in Sheffield, collected lobsters in the South Pacific and explored ancient burial caves in Papua New Guinea.

During my semester abroad at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, I studied modules with an Australian twist and got a feel for the country within a global context including economics, environments and politics. I also worked a few hours a week making crepes. The cost of living is high in Australia. I was there for 6 months but the hardest thing was staying focussed on assignments with great surf beaches just down the coast!

The best experiences on a personal development level were gaining an insight into areas of the world I might never have otherwise e.g. a fascinating module on the broad history and current threat/opportunity posed by China to countries across Asia and Oceania.

It gave me the fantastic opportunity to travel to wild places across the continent e.g. Papua New Guinea – exploring ancient burial caves!

Each experience builds on the last in life to make you a more interesting, resilient and ambitious person with the right attitude. There is no doubt that these experiences multiply 10 fold when you throw yourself at life in a foreign country. The worst thing I had to manage was a crazy land-lady

I am keen to work as a research executive for a global branding agency so ability to work in totally unique environments and analyse the cultural dynamics that play into both conversations and reports is important.

Recently a student came to me for advice on studying abroad, I was happy to help but the detailed questions on everything from phone network recommendations to options on washing facilities just went on and on until I stopped replying. My advice is don’t panic, you are not flying to Mars – a little mystery and open planning can enhance your overall experience.”

Mike has been a Regional Ambassador for Virgin Media Pioneers for the past year.