The Mancunion

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Year abroad: Gran Canaria

Holly Turberfield talks to us about her year abroad experience

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Holly Turberfield, student at The University of Manchester studying Spanish and Portuguese, has just returned from her year abroad. She takes us through her journey from university student to Gran Canarian language assistant through the Comenius teaching scheme.

How did you feel on the day you left for Gran Canaria?

I felt so overwhelmed, from wanting to cry because I was that scared about living in another country, to feeling excited walking past the beach front bars playing Latino music.

Describe a typical day in the school you were teaching.

A typical day would involve around four hours work where I would take half the class into my own classroom. I had full control. My class focused on their oral ability, so I had to plan my own topics to encourage them to speak. Sometimes it was embarrassing because the younger ones would not understand, or it would just make me cringe to hear them speaking amongst themselves in Spanish about me (some good, some bad!)

Did you learn anything new?

I learnt so much, from building my confidence by having to stand in front of a foreign class, to taking up hobbies like surfing. It’s a totally different lifestyle. Most importantly, I learnt how to cook, which has had the biggest affect on my lifestyle. From living with people from all around the world, I’ve learnt that buying a packet meal from Sainsburys is not the way forward!

What was the highlight of your time abroad?

Making friends from all around the world and learning about different cultures. I’ve since visited friends in Germany and Italy who I met on my year abroad and we will be friends for a lifetime.

Did you notice a big difference between the student culture of Gran Canaria to that of the UK?

The nightlife was totally reversed. Compared to going out in England around 10pm until 3am and then getting cheesy chips at the kebab shop, I would be going out around 2am until 8am and getting black coffee and croissants on the beach afterwards.

I could rock up to a club in jeans and flats and have the best night- something I definitely preferred in comparison to the usual fake hair, eyelashes, boobs and fake tan here in Manchester!

How did you feel about returning to Manchester?

I felt prepared with regards to my language skills and confident that I wanted to finish my degree. My experience in Gran Canaria was so beneficial that I’m planning to further my language next year by completing a Masters out there.