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Meet our Undergraduate Study Abroad students

Current undergraduate study abroad students and alumni share their experiences of studying at University of Exeter Business School.

BSc Accounting and Finance with International Study

Alex wanted the chance to travel and experience a new environment, which he was able to do by spending his third year in New Zealand through the Study Abroad programme.

“The University of Exeter Business School has an excellent reputation not only in the UK but also abroad. The teaching here is fantastic and the lecturers are so passionate about their studies, which really motivates me to work hard and do well.

I chose the study abroad option because I wanted to take myself out of my comfort zone and experience a new way of living, learning and developing. I also felt that I hadn’t had enough adventure yet so I thought this would be an excellent way of achieving this.

I applied to the University of Otago in New Zealand as it offered me great flexibility in my studies. I also liked the fact that Otago is recognised as New Zealand’s oldest university and, like Exeter, is research-led, which is an approach to learning that I enjoy.

My experiences abroad allowed me to gain many skills. I have learnt how to adapt to completely new situations. In my first flat, I was living with Kiwi, Danish, Brazilian and American housemates, which taught me how to live with a diverse range of people and different cultures. This also enabled me to build upon my communication skills, allowing them to flourish in an international context. I now have much more confidence speaking in front of people I do not know as a result of my year abroad. I’m sure all of these skills will help me greatly in my final year.

The best thing about studying abroad was being able to do all the things I love, such as skiing, surfing, cricket and rugby, whenever I wanted to. The scenery in New Zealand is absolutely breath-taking. Every time you go on a road trip, you are greeted by an amazing view that you could just stare at for hours. There was one particular day where I went skydiving in the morning and white-water rafting in the afternoon, followed by a fantastic dinner by the side of Lake Taupo; that was probably the best day of the year.

The interpersonal skills I have developed during my year abroad will always be useful to me in whatever career I pursue. Being able to communicate with a wide range of people is a highly desirable, transferable skill that many employers are looking for.”

BSc Economics with International Study

Freddie made the most of every opportunity available during his year abroad at the University of Adelaide, Australia.

“The choice to study abroad was an obvious one for me. It’s an amazing opportunity to be able to study at more than one University during your degree and I chose to study at the University of Adelaide in Australia.

Besides being one of the top eight research universities in Australia, Adelaide, like Exeter, is a campus university, right in the centre of town with amazing facilities, professors and overall quality of life. From cycling along the river to campus each day to going on surf trips at the weekend and public barbeques in the local parklands, Adelaide was a perfect university town for me.

The main purpose of my study abroad was to get a different perspective on the global economy. In Australia, I was able to take advantage of a more Asian-centric approach taken by the University of Adelaide, in contrast to the US/Eurocentric approach I have experienced at Exeter. This has been hugely beneficial to my understanding of the global economy and its history.

I think the most important thing I learnt on my year abroad was how to be truly independent. When I arrived, I had no bank account, phone number or even accommodation but within a week I had all of those and a job under my belt working as a bartender in town.

Putting yourself through this experience develops maturity, financial responsibility and adaptability in difficult situations. These are all transferable, desirable skills for employers and will definitely help me in my future career. My year abroad has also made me more confident and outgoing in general, as it takes you completely out of your comfort zone and I can’t thank Exeter enough for providing me with this opportunity.

The best thing about study abroad was the opportunity to travel. I definitely made the most of the four months we had off for the Australian summer holidays, starting with a two month road trip in a car I bought in Adelaide driving 10,000km north up the east coast of Australia with a bunch of Swedish guys. Then, after completing a diving course in Cairns on the Great Barrier Reef, I flew to Auckland NZ to catch a hop on and off bus tour of both the north and south island in which I had the chance to bungee jump, hike and white water raft in amazing locations. That was a Christmas holiday I will never forget.

The most important piece of advice for prospective study abroad students is take advantage of any opportunities that come your way. I cannot stress enough that wherever you are, your experience will be what you make of it.”

BSc Economics with International Study

Having chosen to study at Exeter for the option to study abroad, Jacky spent a year at the University of Hong Kong.

“The option to take an international study year was a no-brainer for me and was one of the main reasons I chose to study at Exeter. Exploring the world, meeting new people and getting to know different cultures have always been dreams of mine.

From the start, I was set on going to the University of Hong Kong. I had previously visited Hong Kong on holiday and I was instantly hooked by the unique East meets West culture, the urban hustle and the towering skyscrapers surrounding you at every step. In addition, studying at the prestigious University of Hong Kong would be a huge bonus for my CV.

During my time at the University of Hong Kong, I decided to focus on subject areas that I had had little exposure to in my Economics degree so far. This included taking Accounting modules as well as courses which aren’t available at Exeter, such as Foreign Trade and Investment in China and the Economic history of China. The rise of China in recent times has been a large area of interest for me and HKU provided an unparalleled opportunity to study the subject, both as a world-class University and also by location situated on the doorstep of China.

Studying at HKU was definitely a challenge. The global reputation of the university was matched by the workload. I was expected to take five modules per term, rather than the four I was used to back in Exeter. Despite the increased workload, I learnt to manage my time to allow for both studying and exploring Asia. This is the most crucial thing that will help me in my final year as studies take first priority and I must juggle multiple responsibilities around time spent with textbooks.

Without a doubt the best thing about my time abroad was the people. This does not only include the students and lecturers, who came from an amazingly diverse range of backgrounds, but also the people I met while travelling around Asia in my spare time. I now have friends spanning across the world, including Hong Kong, Australia, Canada, the USA, Taiwan and Korea.

Another great outcome of my year abroad is that my self-confidence has skyrocketed. Pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and moving to Hong Kong were key to this. Living in a completely different country, especially such a busy area with an entirely different language, really tested my limits and adaptability. The lessons I’ve learnt from doing so could not have been accomplished without my year abroad.

The skills obtained through study abroad are always desirable for employers. Soft skills such as intercultural and interpersonal skills are naturally developed through living abroad. Besides this, adaptability to a new environment and language skills are top desirable traits in graduates today. The skills I’ve developed in my year abroad are without a doubt going to help me in my career going forward.”

BSc Business Economics with International Study

With a strong interest in China’s economics, culture and language, Laura jumped at the chance of being able to spend a year in Hong Kong through the Study Abroad programme.

“Aside from its academic reputation, what attracted me to Exeter were my options in and around my course, but also outside of it. On the Economics programme, I had great flexibility to shape my degree within business and economics, as well as adding Mandarin Chinese, but it was particularly the option to be able to go to attractive partner institutions around the world that was a decisive factor for me.

I’ve always been interested in China, both economically and culturally, and I’ve studied the Chinese language as a module since I started at Exeter. As the University of Hong Kong also offered a rigorous curriculum in business and economics, as well as being centred in one of the most exciting and diverse hubs in Asia, it was the ideal destination for me.

My programme at Exeter has given me the chance to establish exactly which areas of academia I’m interested in. So during my year away, I focused on expanding my knowledge of economics, with particular emphasis on China and Hong Kong-related topics. I also continued to build on my interest in the language by studying Mandarin and Cantonese – while also making a point of living with local Chinese students in halls.

After being there for almost a year, I had grown very accustomed to the local culture and learnt a lot about Chinese and Asian mentalities. But the year also had another major effect on me: by exposing myself to a new and very different environment, and tackling unfamiliar situations on an almost daily basis, my self confidence grew to an extent I could never have anticipated.

Two thirds of the way into my year, I decided to go on a three-and-a-half-week journey through mainland China by myself, something I would never have imagined I was capable of when I first arrived. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one of my biggest achievements – and when I look back on the year, I realise I didn’t only learn about Chinese economics, politics and the culture, I also discovered a lot more about my own personality and strengths.

It’s a great talking point too. In my interviews I attended for summer internships, the first question I was asked nearly always related to my experience in Hong Kong, and I am sure that it helped me secure my preference.

Seeing many different places in Asia and particularly studying China’s economic issues has also furthered my ambitions to deepen my understanding of economics and development. So I am now planning to continue with a Masters in Economics and then go on to pursue a career in either development or strategy.”

BSc Accounting and Finance with European Study with Proficiency in German

Lizzie has already been offered a graduate job and believes her year studying abroad in Germany was key to this.

“After doing some work experience in an accountancy firm when I was 17, I decided that I wanted my degree to be based in accounting. I like the fact that Exeter has allowed me to tailor my degree to what I want, allowing me to learn German and study abroad. I had always wanted to experience living abroad and this gave me an excellent opportunity to do that.

I spent the year at Mannheim University, which is a top institution in Germany for Business. I chose to study Business Administration as there were some excellent courses on offer that were not run at Exeter, such as social media marketing. It was good to study other aspects of Business that I don’t study in my degree at Exeter and I feel like I now have a much wider knowledge of business.

Studying in Germany was a great choice for me because I wanted to improve my German. I was able to take German language courses and take part in a summer academy, as well as just speaking German at some point each day, which really helped me to improve. I also believe that studying abroad will help me in my final year because I have learnt new ways to study and discovered how I study well.

The best thing about my study abroad year has been meeting people and making friends from all over the world and learning about their cultures. Mannheim was very central in Europe, so it was easy to get away for the weekend to discover new places, including Paris, Prague, Berlin, Munich, Lisbon and Copenhagen. I spent Easter at my friend’s summer house in Finland which was in the countryside and absolutely beautiful.

As well as this, we had 6 weeks off after Christmas, which gave me the opportunity to visit my boyfriend, also an Exeter student on his year abroad, in New Zealand. I had the most fantastic month out there. We went bungee jumping, sky diving, white-water rafting, whale watching and, my personal highlight, found a wild penguin on a beach. If I hadn’t chosen to study abroad, I would never have had that time off to visit New Zealand in their summer time.

I have already secured a graduate job with EY after doing a summer internship with them. During my interviews I really emphasised the time I spent in Germany with people from a variety of cultures and backgrounds. The final interviewer said to me 'we can teach anyone to do the work, what we’re looking for is someone who can talk to all sorts of people.' The fact that I had studied abroad and put myself out there to talk to different people showed that I was what they were looking for.”

BSc Business Economics with European Study

Naomi started by studying for a foundation certificate with INTO before progressing to a degree in Business Economics, including a year’s study at Toulouse Business School.

“Before starting my degree, I completed a foundation certificate with INTO Exeter and had the opportunity to see the University develop (construction of the Forum) and rise in the rankings. I grew accustomed to the beautiful campus and could not imagine starting over in a new university.

I chose to study Business Economics for my degree because of its flexibility. In my first year I was able to choose 60 credits of optional modules and in my second and fourth I was able to pick up to 90 credits of optional modules. The Business Economics course allows me to study an Economics degree but with less mathematical content, which was perfect for me.

For my year abroad, I wanted to have the full Erasmus experience and experience a new style of learning so I chose Toulouse Business School (TBS). My decision was also greatly influenced by a Business School study abroad representative during the Study Abroad Fair in my second year. The representatives answered all my questions and reassured me that TBS would be a great choice for my year abroad and he was not wrong.

I chose to focus on the business aspect of my degree by studying courses not provided by the University of Exeter. These included how to deal with the French, negotiation with the Chinese and Japanese and Effective Meetings. This gave me the opportunity to complement my soft skills and broaden my knowledge of the business environment.

After finishing my year abroad, I completed an internship with the Nigerian Investment Management Service (NAPIMS), a corporate subsidiary unit of the National Nigerian Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). I believe my year abroad helped me to secure this internship by making my application stand out amongst other candidates, and since graduating, has helped me to gain my current role as an analyst at the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority.

The best thing about study abroad was that I was able to experience new European cultures through travelling. At times it was challenging to adapt to a new culture but it was definitely worthwhile. Also studying abroad broadens your thinking patterns, for instance a typical class in TBS resembles a UN panel because of the sheer diversity. It was a rare opportunity to gain insight into numerous cultures and challenge previous conceptions about various cultures.

I would advise anyone going to study abroad to start speaking the language of your study abroad country immediately when you arrive and try not to speak your native language even though it feels comfortable. This way you will integrate much better with the local culture and get more out of the experience.”

BSc Economics and Politics with European Study

During his year abroad in Munich, Tom took the opportunity to start up his own business, KOMPAS.

“The University of Exeter is ranked as one of the best universities in the country, and the Business School in particular invests in its students. What particularly appealed to me was the opportunity to study abroad and the freedom to explore modules outside of my degree title.

When organising my year abroad, I was given a huge amount of support that helped me analyse and choose the place best suited to me. I decided to spend the year in Munich, studying at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität. This gave me the chance to learn a second language, immerse myself in a new culture and travel.

I also took the opportunity during my year abroad to create KOMPAS, a mobile application that uses artificial intelligence in the form of machine learning to generate travel recommendations and plans, according to each individual’s interests. I saw the lack of personalisation when exploring a new city, and used this to cofound the company with a fellow student, Olivia, before moving on to create the app.

My study abroad year has quite easily had the biggest impact on my life to date. It’s allowed me to travel around Europe, learn a new language, and make friends from all over the world. I became more confident, independent and adaptable. I’ve also had a huge number of opportunities presented to me since cofounding KOMPAS.

Olivia and I won the Third Year Abroad Entrepreneurial Award for the Best Startup Idea. I also made it through to the finals of the Future Business Leader Award at the Undergraduate of the Year Awards 2016 and was selected to represent the UK at the world finals of the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards 2016. Being selected for these awards has been both a huge confidence boost and a validation of KOMPAS. It’s also given me the opportunity to meet some of the most driven and exciting students from across the UK and Europe, as well as industry experts and leading businesspeople.

After graduating, I’ll be working full time on KOMPAS with my team, as we plan on raising a round of investment and building a user base all over the world. Because of my year abroad, I can now work in Germany and the UK, which is where our user base stems from. I’ve also learned fundamental skills, and connected with people who can provide a different perspective, to make sure that we can adapt to any necessary changes. I’m looking forward to the journey, and hope that KOMPAS will be recognised worldwide over the next 5 years. My long term goal is to find a sustainable way to give everyone an equal opportunity at life, so that each and every person has the same chance.

My advice to other students is, firstly, make the most of your year abroad. Take advantage of everything that’s given to you, and do things outside of your degree that help you understand it better. Make sure you’re doing what you enjoy, and don't be afraid to ask for help if you’re not sure about something.”