Literatures, Languages & Cultures

Year abroad stories: Eliot Benvie

A French and Spanish MA (Hons) student, Eliot is spending his year in Madrid teaching English through the British Council.

Language students in Madrid
Language students in Madrid. Eliot is second from right.

The Year Abroad is a key part of many undergraduate degrees in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC). Compulsory for some degrees, and optional for others, it’s a year of great change and great opportunity.

As part of a series of features on the Year Abroad, we’ve asked a range of current students to tell us about their experiences so far. Here, Eliot Benvie reports from Madrid.

“I’m spending my year abroad teaching English through the British Council at a bilingual high school in the outskirts of the city. As someone who thrives in an urban environment, settling into my new life in the Spanish capital was far easier than I expected.”

Archway in Madrid
An archway in Plaza Mayor, Madrid

“Madrid is a vibrant, bustling city full of culture, history and an overwhelming number of things to do. Although Spain is a country that is in many ways similar to our own, I did experience a degree of culture shock, which is only to be expected on any year abroad.”

“The difference in mealtimes, for example, took me a while to get used to, but now I eat dinner as late as a native and enjoy a siesta every afternoon, a custom that I’ll be glad to take back with me to the UK! The more time I spend here, the happier and luckier I feel to be living in such a place on my year abroad.”

Sunset over Madrid
Sunset over Plaza de Callao, Madrid

New ways of seeing the world

“I have learned a lot since arriving here, and at times it has somewhat been a baptism of fire. Finding a flat, opening a bank account and waiting in line with endless documentation have all been a learning curve, but an important one nonetheless.”

“It’s only been ten weeks, but I have met so many wonderful people here so far and my eyes have been opened to new ways of seeing the world. I have also realised that I should make the most of every waking moment yet remember to relax and enjoy myself”.

What you put in is what you get out

“This experience really is what you make it - what you put in is what you get out. Ultimately, a year abroad is a character-building exercise: it challenges you mentally, socially, financially and of course intellectually, no matter whether you’re studying or working.”

“Never forget that you’ll always be learning in ways you never expected to do so. A year abroad is an irreplaceable experience that will develop you beneficially for years to come.”

Are you interested in studying languages at LLC?

All our undergraduate language programmes include a year abroad, either studying or working. From Arabic to Swedish, there’s a wide range of languages to choose from.

Find out more about undergraduate study at LLC

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