“Individuals from different backgrounds, who follow different religions and speak different languages are continuously working together as businesses around the world become more internationally focused. It is therefore important to gain as much international knowledge and experience as you can, to enable you to communicate effectively with any individual.” Luke Fletcher (Student Employability Coach)
Some weeks ago I returned from a field trip to Belgium with my department and I can’t lie; it was an awesome experience. Since starting University there have always been various opportunities to go abroad, but I never really understood the importance of international experience. Although the notion of going abroad was nice, I was either too busy studying or was too busy involved in extracurriculars and working.
One day I received an email saying there were spaces to go on this departmental trip to Brussels. I recall having one of those light bulb moments because it was only the previous day that I was speaking with a lecturer on what I could do to differentiate myself from other graduates come 2016 and she was emphasising international experience and learning a language. So after pondering on it for a few moments, I submitted an application which was accepted, so it was happy days.
Fast forward to departure day, present with 2 knowledgeable academics and a new group of friends I had made, it was a surreal feeling… I had arrived and was in a different country but it hadn’t hit me yet despite walking around being a typical tourist taking pictures of everything I saw. From the moment I got there I adored it. The change of culture differed greatly from over in the UK (as expected) but it was refreshing. It was also nice to be surrounded by multilingual people along with the comfort of nice hospitality from the Belgians everywhere I went. Language was no barrier in that respect either, as I spoke English my whole time over there to be greeted with English back despite French and Dutch being the predominant languages.
There were many highlights of the trip including going on a boat trip in Bruges which was nice and cultural, visiting Atomium (middle picture) and getting to explore gems in Brussels such as the Grand Place. The best highlight for me was getting to visit the European Parliamentarium. It’s strange because before going I did have an interest in EU politics but it was very mild. Visiting the Parliamentarium definitely opened my eyes up to how the EU parliament works and how certain motions are passed through, it was an awesome educational experience. So awesome that I will definitely be taking up an optional module in something related to it.
Another benefit I got from travelling was the inspiration to finally take up a language. All year, I’ve wanted to pick up French and/or German but I’ve been too busy to even make any enquiries. Being surrounded by locals who spoke French made me want to communicate with them in French. As soon as I got back from the trip, I began enquiring about language lessons and I will be taking up French language lessons in September.
The graduate market is getting increasingly competitive and you have to ask yourself ‘how will I make myself stand out?’. This could be one of the ways you can make yourself stand out by being able to speak about your experience abroad and what you’ve learnt. Alongside being able to refer to experiences abroad when you are being asked competency based questions during interviews.
On top of this, “Studies have shown that undertaking a work or study placement abroad as part of an undergraduate degree has a positive impact on your degree classification. Moreover, international experience on your CV can differentiate you from others and can greatly enhance your future employability.” Stefan Musiol (IEMS)
There are many ways you can engage in an international experience whilst at University including:
- A study year abroad as part of your degree between years 2 and 3.
- A work placement abroad as part of your degree between years 2 and 3.
- A shorter amount of time such as a summer internship abroad.
- Global experience Add+vantage Modules where you go abroad for 1-2 weeks. Field trips vary from from Taiwan for GED students to Berlin for Performing Arts students to name a few.
- IEMS also offer funding opportunities for a wide range of international experience programmes and activities such as Columbus Programme (Latin America), Vasco da Gama (India), Marco Polo (China) or Safari (Africa). Check out the IEMS website for further details.
If you are interested in undertaking in a Global Experience Add+vantage Module click on the links below to see what is on offer.
Level 2 Global Experience Modules: https://students.coventry.ac.uk/Add-vantage/Pages/L2GlobalExperience.aspx
Level 3 Global Experience Modules:https://students.coventry.ac.uk/Add-vantage/Pages/L3GlobalExperience.aspx
If you’re interested in one of them, then email the respective Module Leader showing your interest and they will take it from there.
But be quick because Add+vantage deadline day is next week on Monday 19th of May.