Making your Year Abroad Less Scary- TYA by Lizzie Fane
Lizzie is the founder of thirdyearabroad.com, a network to support students who work, study or volunteer abroad during their university time. The idea of this webpage comes from her own experience studying abroad in Florence, Italy.
Lizzie is a great example of the positive impact that studying abroad has in students’ life. Her story is an inspiration of entrepreneurship and hard work to create this amazing website. So in Beroomers we couldn’t miss the opportunity to interview her!
1. When and how did you think of starting TYA?
I studied History of Art at the Università degli Studi di Firenze in Italy, as part of my UK degree, and had the most wonderful time there. I thought at the time that it would have been useful to have insider advice about where to live, how to matriculate at the university and how to start a bank account – I found it all quite difficult, on my own and in a foreign language – so I started to draw up my ideas for a website to help other students in my situation. When I got back to the UK, I entered a Scottish business plan competition and worked through how I could monetise my idea. After I graduated and had some practical, relevant work experience I decided to focus full-time on my new business.
2. What are your favourite memories of your year abroad. Any tips to make the best of it?
I loved learning new Italian skills! The language aside, I did courses in Tuscan cooking, leather bookbinding, olive oil making, traditional atelier technique drawing and calligraphy. I went to cultural talks at the British Institute, took coaches to explore Tuscan towns, walked around art exhibitions with my notebook and worked on my Year Abroad Project in beautiful buildings – I became a member of the Uffizzi and Laurentian libraries so I could find rare secondary sources! My best advice would be to get a bicycle so you can whizz around and fit more into your day!
3. How TYA has grown until now? And where are you heading? Users, team, projects..
TYA started life as a social network with content written by me and, with the help of two brilliant Editors over 5 years, has become a massive information site filled with articles written by students about their experiences – but with tips and advice to ensure that each article is accessible and as helpful as possible. We have also developed two new websites: TYAanswers.com which is a Q&A site for students where they can discover, ask and answer questions about their experiences, and GlobalGraduates.com, a jobs board and headhunting service for young people with global skills looking for international opportunities. We have all sorts of different projects going on – there’s #YearOverHere and #InspireaClass, not to mention our Year Abroad Awards 2015 which have just launched – we can’t WAIT for the next academic year to begin again in September so we can inspire more students to go abroad during their degree!
4. You know that in some countries it is not so widely extended the concept of one year abroad…why would you recommend it as a must for students?
Your undergraduate degree takes 3 to 5 years – that’s a huge amount of time to spend in one place in your late teens/early twenties when there is so much to see in the world! How are you supposed to make yourself a unique candidate in your job application when you’re 1 of 20+ from a single university doing exactly the same degree course? Are you going to pine for an opportunity to travel when you have already started on your career path? Are you fed up of people thinking about you in a certain way and are you looking for a chance to be yourself? Do you hear people speaking foreign languages and get even a tiny bit jealous? And how are you supposed to know where you want to live in life?
A year abroad is the ultimate opportunity to spend time doing whatever you want – teaching, working, volunteering, studying – wherever in the world you want to go! It gives you a taste for adventure, so you see a patch of holiday coming up and plan a trip, or you get offered a year-long job in Mexico and have the confidence to go for it! It’s also important in terms of your personality and your cultural understanding. You become a global citizen when you understand other people’s cultures from the ‘inside’ and from their point of view – the whole process makes you more tolerant, independent and self confident. It’s just an incredibly important process to go through, whoever you are – whether it’s a resounding success or a ‘learning curve’, let’s say, I think it should be compulsory.
So, what are you waiting for? Take a Third Year Abroad, find your ideal accommodation in Beroomers and make the most out of it!
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