Break out of the trap of British mediocrity and see the world

Sadly to say, truly fantastic opportunities just don’t come along all that often, nor do they necessarily make themselves obvious when they do, which serves to highlight the importance of grabbing them while you can.

Personally, I am not really a fan of being cold all the time. Britain’s miserable climate is depressing and makes everything a droopy looking shade of grey. This is probably why, months after eschewing the opportunity myself, I do now feel a tinge of jealousy towards those York students who are enjoying themselves at University College Los Angeles in yearlong exchanges.

While LA is renowned for its vast pile of problems, UCLA itself is a top class institution with plenty going for it. Ignoring climate vanity, studying in the USA gives a British student a number of advantages later in life when it comes to actually finding work, as well as a look at another centre of global education.

It is certainly true however, that the language benefits of attending university in the US are tenuous, being another nation in the Anglo-sphere. However, UCLA is far from the only option available to students; ERASMUS offers placement in a vast number of countries to travel to where English is not widely spoken.

As a nation, Britain is remarkably bad at interacting meaningfully with our neighbours. Where other Western European schools are teaching their children to be at the very minimum bi-lingual as a core of their education, British standards of foreign language education in schools struggle to get children to grasp the basics of anything other than English, a problem that is well known, but considered unfixable. Travelling to the likes of Germany, France or Sweden offers you the potential of a year contributing in some way to a solution to this conundrum of British isolationism.

Unless you are homesick or cannot face leaving the country, there are no real downsides to leaving Britain for a year. It is not even particularly high in terms of quality of life index, ranking a mediocre 17th at last check, with many potential destinations resting higher.

For those concerned about the mountains of debt that they face, ERASMUS and most foreign exchanges provide a grant waiving tuition fees for the time spent abroad. The language and experience obtained abroad is invaluable for job hunting, something students at the moment are fretting about to a greater level than ever before, as employers will always see an advantage in having bi-lingual and well travelled employees.

And while you may not jump on the opportunity immediately, think about it next time you step outside to a sludge coloured sky.


  1. It’s University of California, Los Angeles… not University College Los Angeles…. I apologise for the pedantry.

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  2. ‘Sadly to say…’


    Sadly is an adverb.

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  3. 28 Jan ’10 at 7:57 pm

    Lucy Alexander

    Great article and very true. Though not all departments offer opportunities for study abroad. For example, the law department does not. One of my friends from Manchester is studying for a year at the National University of Singapore. He has taken several trips to Malaysia, Laos, Japan and China, and the beaches there are soooo sexy. Seriously, PEOPLE NEED TO TRAVEL MORE. It just makes you more interesting.

    Some people in this university have such dire personalities, if they don’t have a pint of alcohol in their hand they have the personalities of disabled goldfish. Seriously. TRAVEL!

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