We caught up with Fiona who graduated in 2018 to see how her year abroad impacted her beyond university…Here is what she had to say…

Study abroad student, Fiona in their graduation gown with their certificate“My name is Fiona and I am a BSc Psychology Graduate who graduated from The University of Essex in 2018. I am currently working in NHS as a Social Prescribing Link Worker. Alongside this, I am a Mental Health First Aider and lead workshops for a Mental Health organisation.

I embarked on a year abroad in the USA in August 2016 and it was the best academic year ever! Despite losing my mum a few days before my flight to America, my family encouraged me to continue the journey and I am so glad I did. I had always wanted to do a year abroad in the USA so that I could gain academic and cultural understanding of studying at a university there. I also wanted to see how it differed to studying in the UK. Whilst there, I got really involved with the activities and events taking place to maximise my experience. I was also able to travel to several states too, including Florida, Washington D.C. and New York to truly see how America varies in different parts.

I was able to get through the year with the support and encouragement from my family, friends and Julie, my year abroad advisor. My motivation and drive to make my parents and my family proud kept me going, regardless of the struggles faced. Whilst studying, I met amazing staff and students who all contributed to my time there and I was able to make the most of the experience and create unforgettable memories that year. I am still in touch with the friends I made whilst there and I visit them at least once a year ever since leaving! Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, I have not been able to see them in a while, but we are all looking forward to catching up with each other face to face again when we can.

Studying abroad truly inspired me to be the person that I am today as it showed me that I am very resilient and capable of accomplishing a lot. I finished the academic year with a 1st class honours, which gave me the confidence and reassurance I needed to persevere through my final year once back at Essex. I learnt new ways to study and developed my cultural awareness significantly. As a graduate now, I can see that the year abroad experience encouraged me to continue my love for travelling and building meaningful connections with others. I am so grateful that I was able to discover more about myself whilst away and that it positively aided my self-development”.

Find out more about Essex Abroad opportunities.