By Isaac Brooks
Having finished my final year at Manchester, and now getting ready for my graduation next month, it is unbelievable that it is over a year since I returned from my year abroad at Arizona State University. Reflecting back on this time it is impossible to ignore the ways that studying abroad has had a positive impact on my final year, as well as looking into the future, the next steps after graduating.
The first and perhaps most significant way studying abroad has helped me during my final year is that it has allowed me to draw from a wider breath of knowledge during my final year. By spending a year studying at a different university in a different country, this allowed me to experience a new teaching style which enabled me to develop new ways of thinking and understanding. Studying Geography, which is both theory and empirically based, studying abroad exposed me to new case studies which I wouldn’t have considered if I had gone straight from second to third year at Manchester. This has allowed me to draw on a wider breadth and depth of knowledge during my final year at Manchester, and because of that is one of the key ways studying abroad has helped me beyond what I initially considered.
This different teaching style I previously mentioned was most apparent in a heavy emphasis placed on participation in class. Because my year abroad was pass or fail, I had the option of choosing a wide range of subjects outside of Geography. One of the courses class participation was most significant was in a law class I took in the spring semester, which actually offered marks towards the final grade for participation. This helped me during my final year at Manchester as this normalized participating in class during lectures and seminars during my final year, as well as approach lecturers during their office hours.
Looking forward, I undoubtedly think that studying abroad will help me after graduation. Moving to a new country and dealing with new challenges has improved my adaptability and ability to problem solve. I also think that studying abroad will help me to stand out in the crowded graduate job market, both by being on my CV and also through the skills I have gained. Studying abroad, as well as becoming a Global Ambassador has enabled me to develop real world skills that I could not have gained in the lecture theater, from representing Manchester at study abroad fairs at ASU, to answering any questions prospective study abroad students had once I returned to Manchester. Because of all this, studying abroad has helped me more than I ever realized it could, both in my final year at Manchester as well as after graduation.