Growing up in South Africa, a country with eleven official languages, while speaking Italian at home, I found languages to be part of my daily life. A language is like a bridge between two people. I loved the idea that, by learning more languages, I’d be able to communicate with more people who were different. Everyone says that choosing a Bachelors Degree in business is a safe bet if you’re not entirely sure of ‘what you wanted to do when you’re older’. I found myself in this situation and conducted further research only to find, what seemed to be, a course that was made for me: International Management with French at the University of Bath in England. This course could also potentially make me stick out from those who had chosen to study solely business.
My experience at the University of Bath
I always knew that I wanted to study in the UK, purely because of its prestigious universities: something that would stimulate me and challenge me. The idea of moving to a different continent was daunting but, like Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nothing worth having comes easy.” Looking back, I can genuinely say that I am so happy with the choices I have made for such a crucial turning point in my life. The process of applying to universities through UCAS was quite challenging and I could’ve used a helping hand as it was quite time-consuming. Saying that, the efforts were definitely worth it. Living in England was a bit of a shock to the system at first, but I felt at home in no time. The university in itself is very helpful and supportive of all its students, whether it is regarding academic help, general assistance for medical care etc. or even mental health. I feel as if I’m part of a community. The choices for extra curricular activities are ample. I tried out both Kickboxing and Volleyball: both of which I had never done in my life! Of course the social life is also great fun! Without fail there is an event happening every night: something fit for everyone. Although a different lifestyle, I have to admit that I have never been so happy. When we move away from all that we know, we tend to become more ourselves and, through doing so, we draw in those who are attracted to our true personalities, which is often not the case at school.
Living in the wonderful city of Bath
Students make up around a quarter of the city of Bath’s population. Its size is ideal for students ; it is not as overwhelming as London, however, not too small that you’ll get bored. It is the only city in England to have UNESCO World Heritage status owing to its beautiful Georgian architecture, the Gothic Abbey, and the Roman Baths.
In addition to its rich history, Bath is modern and offers several activities like shopping at high street brands, eating at a variety of restaurants from authentic Thai to smaller gastro pubs, to also exploring the parks or the Royal Crescent. If you feel like exploring, Bath is also a 10 minute train ride to Bristol so there is always the option to gallivant around the alternative bigger city or go to different nightclubs or festivals. London is also nearby with only an hour and a half away by train should you want to visit the capital city. Bath is the perfect location to enjoy a more student-friendly lifestyle with a great atmosphere while still having the option to travel to bigger cities.
Studying in a different language
Choosing a combined degree that is taught half in English and half in French I knew that I was not going to have it easy. Learning about politics, law and economics is challenging enough in English let alone in French! Saying this, starting as a “Fresher”, it is comforting to know that everyone is in the same boat and you’re all trying to learn vocabulary together and pretend to be more French than you ever thought you could be! English universities offer more independent learning with fewer contact hours… this took some getting used to ! In such an international course you’ll find that everyone is either bilingual or trilingual, meaning that it is easy to practice your chosen language with a francophone, for example.
Essentially, all of this preparation helps towards the placement year. The University of Bath placement scheme is recognised highly and when immersed in a different culture speaking only the language of the country, whether it be in a working or studious environment, one experiences something invaluable. I am currently working at Study Experience in Paris for six months and, although I have only just started and it truly depends on how much effort one puts into their placement, I surely do have to take my hat off to Bath for giving me this opportunity and preparing me for another adventure.